Prevention and Early Diagnosis
Gynecologic cancers are the fourth most common type of cancer in women. They affect a woman’s reproductive organs: the ovaries, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina, and vulva. These types of cancer affect approximately 1 in 20 women.
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent gynecologic cancers, there are things you can do to reduce your risk. In addition to eating a healthy diet and following an exercise program, experts agree that there are four steps you can take to protect your gynecologic health. .
Know Your Family History
If someone in your family, especially your mother, sister, or maternal aunt, has been diagnosed with gynecologic cancer, you are at greater risk for developing the disease. This is especially true with ovarian cancer. By being aware of your family medical history and sharing this information with your doctor, you and your doctor can determine if there are specific screening tests that you should undergo. .
Screening tests are the most effective way to detect gynecologic cancers in their early stages, when they are easier to treat.
Don’t be afraid to talk with your doctor about gynecologic cancer and about any symptoms or questions you may have. Before your next gynecologic exam, write down your questions and concerns. Share them with your doctor. It is also important to know the warning signs of gynecologic cancers and to be knowledgeable about how to detect and prevent these types of cancers. .
Have An Annual Exam
Annual gynecologic exams are the best way to detect any unusual changes in your reproductive organs or any signs of cancer. Annual PAP tests are an important way to detect cervical cancer in its early stages, when it is most treatable. Depending on your age, you may also be given an HPV test for the human papillomavirus, which may be linked to cancer of the cervix. .
Determine Your Risk
Be sure you understand your risk for each type of gynecologic cancer. Talk with your doctor about specific risk factors, screening tests, and preventative measures. .
To reduce your risk of cancer:
• Do not smoke.
• Limit your intake of fat, especially saturated fat and trans fat.
A healthy lifestyle, screening tests, and regular check-ups can help lower your risk of cancer.
• Eat foods high in fiber.
• Get regular medical exams and recommended tests.
• Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.
• Limit your time in the sun and use sun block.
• Pay attention to any changes in your body.
• Limit your number of sexual partners.
• Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
• Talk openly with your doctor about your health.
Common warning signs of gynecologic cancers:
• Unusual bleeding or discharge from the vagina
• A sore in the genital area that doesn’t heal
• Pain or pressure in the pelvic area
Early detection is one of the best weapons against all types of gynecologic cancers.
• Change in bowel or bladder habits that persists
• Frequent or constant indigestion or bloating of the abdomen
• A thickening or lump in the pelvic area that either causes pain or can be seen or felt.