Gynecologic Cancers: How much do you know?

‘Cancer’ is one of the most frightening words in the English dictionary. It translates to feelings of uncertainty, confusion and instability. Gynecologic cancer is unique to the female reproductive system. According to the Foundation for Women’s Cancer, every year about 100,000 women get diagnosed, with about 30,000 of those resulting in death.

The best cure is prevention.

Below, this article contains several steps you can take to prevent cancer from wreaking havoc on your body and putting your life in danger.

Having your annual GYN visit is crucial to prevention and early detection of various diseases, including cancer. If you have not had your annual visit this year, schedule one immediately by calling us at 631.587.2500.

What can you do?

Get informed.

In addition to visiting your GYN regularly, learning about the types of Gynecologic Cancers and their symptoms is an important step you can take. Here’s a brief overview:

1. Cervical: Each year, about 12,500 women get diagnosed and about a third of the cases result in death. During early stages, there are few noticeable symptoms, if any at all. During more progressive stages, the woman may experience bleeding outside of her cycle. A routine pap smear can catch precancerous (and cancerous) cells that can be treated to prevent the cancer. Treatment is also most effective in early stages. Keep in mind that annual visits do not automatically include a pap smear, but are highly recommended at least every 3 years.

2. Ovarian: Ovarian cancer causes more deaths in the U.S. than any other Gynecologic cancer. Each year, there are 22,000 new cases and of those, 14,000 cases result in death. Symptoms include bloating, unusual vaginal bleeding, back pain, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, bloating, and pelvic area pain.

3. Uterine: Uterine cancer affects the lining of the uterus. Over 50,000 get diagnosed each year and of those, 9,000 cases result in death. Symptoms

include pain during sex, when urinating or in the pelvic area, and unusual vaginal bleeding.

4. Vaginal: Vaginal cancer affects the surface of the vaginal canal. There are 3,000 women diagnosed each year and of those, a third of the cases result in death. Symptoms include unusual bleeding, pain urinating, constipation, and pain in the pelvic area.

5. Vulvar: Vulvar cancer can be found on the outer female genitalia. There are 5,000 new diagnoses made each year and of those, 1,000 cases result in death. Symptoms include persistent itching, unusual bleeding, pain, and skin changes.

Take action

In many cases, there are few to no symptoms in the beginning of gynecologic cancer. The best way to prevent cancer is by being diligent about visiting your GYN at least once a year. When caught in early stages, many of these cancers can be managed or cured.

In addition to visiting your GYN regularly, help your immune system by making better lifestyle choices. This includes eating foods that boost your immune system such as vegetables, nuts, fruit and legumes. Furthermore, avoid foods that are high in fat, processed sugars and processed oils, which are known to slow the immune system. Additionally, cease any habits that are known to increase your chances of developing cancer such as smoking. Instead, develop better stress-management habits including exercise, yoga and meditation.

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