Gynecologic cancer is actually a grouping of several different types of cancer that affect women. The tissues and organs that are targeted by gynecologic cancer are portions of a female’s reproductive system. This includes cervical cancer, uterine cancer, fallopian tube cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Although any woman is potentially at risk for developing female (gynecological) cancer, certain factors can increase the likelihood of developing this disease. Smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, HPV infection, and the use of particular medications (such as certain types of birth control medications) can increase a woman’s odds of developing gynecologic cancer. Because heredity plays a role, women with a family history of cancer have a higher probability of getting this disease.
Even though we all know how crucial early detection is when dealing with a potentially life threatening illness, no one likes to consider the fact that they might have a deadly disease. However, if you experience any of these warning signs and symptoms, you need to speak with your healthcare provider in order to find out the cause.
Pelvic pain or pressure. Any type of pelvic pain or pressure should be taken very seriously. This includes pain in the pelvis that appears during certain situations (such as when you twist your body a specific way), when you bend, move, or during sexual intercourse. These are all warning signs that need to be evaluated by your doctor.
Abnormal bleeding. This is a very important sign. Bleeding when it is not your monthly period, bleeding after menopause, bleeding in between periods, and unusually heavy flow during your period – these are all warning signs of gynecologic cancer. Report any abnormal vaginal, urinary tract, or anal bleeding to your doctor as soon as possible.
Abnormal discharge. Inform your gynecologist about any changes from your normal vaginal discharge.
Any sore that does not heal. If you have a sore that either doesn’t heal or that heals very slowly, let your doctor know.
Continual feeling of fullness. If you have trouble eating because you already feel full, or experience the feeling of fullness soon after you begin eating, inform your healthcare provider.
Changes in bathroom habits. Changes in your normal bladder (frequency or urgency) or bowel patterns (including nausea, diarrhea, gas, and indigestion) that last longer than 2 weeks should be reported to your doctor.
Unintended weight changes. If you suddenly lose weight without dieting or exercise, or unexpectedly begin to gain weight for no apparent reason, let your doctor know.
Low back pain. Although many non-cancerous conditions can cause low back pain, pain in the low back can sometimes indicate a problem with the ovaries or uterus. Only a doctor can tell for certain.
Other signs include: Skin color changes, burning pain in the genital region, and abdominal bloating.
Have annual physicals, routine gynecologic examinations, and pap tests in order to safeguard yourself against the dangers of cancer. Speak with your doctor about any unusual changes that you may be experiencing, especially if you have one or several of the above warning signs of gynecologic cancer.