Page 8 - CCC Newsletter Summer 2019
P. 8

Gynecologic cancer is any cancer that starts in a woman’s reproductive organs. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts. Gynecologic cancers begin in different places within a woman’s pelvis, which is the area below the stomach and in between the hip bones.
Types of Gynecologic Cancer
• Cervicalcancerbeginsinthecervix,whichisthelower,narrow end of the uterus. (The uterus is also called the womb.)
• Ovariancancerbeginsintheovaries,whicharelocatedon each side of the uterus.
• Uterinecancerbeginsintheuterus,thepear-shapedorganina woman’s pelvis where the baby grows when she is pregnant.
• Vaginalcancerbeginsinthevagina,whichisthehollow,tube- like channel between the bottom of the uterus and the outside of the body.
• Vulvarcancerbeginsinthevulva,theouterpartofthefemale genital organs.
Each gynecologic cancer is unique, with different
signs and symptoms, different risk factors (things that may increase your chance of getting a disease), and different prevention strategies. All women are at risk for gynecologic cancers, and risk increases with age.
When gynecologic cancers are found early, treatment is most effective.
What Are The Symptoms?
There is no way to know for sure if you will get a gynecologic cancer. That’s why it is important to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you, so you can recognize the warning signs or symptoms of gynecologic cancer.
If you have vaginal bleeding that is unusual for you, talk to a doctor right away. You should also see a doctor if you have any other warning signs that last for two weeks or longer and are not normal for you. Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see a doctor.
Signs and symptoms are not the same for everyone
and each gynecologic cancer (cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar cancers) has its own signs and symptoms. If you notice any changes in your body we recommend visiting with your healthcare provider.
Types of Treatment
Gynecologic cancers are treated in several ways.
It depends on the kind of cancer and how far it has spread. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Women with a gynecologic cancer often get more than one kind of treatment.
• Surgery: Doctors remove cancer tissue in an operation.
• Chemotherapy:Usingspecialmedicinestoshrinkorkillthe cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
• Radiation:Usinghigh-energyrays(similartoX-rays)tokill the cancer.
Different treatments may be provided by different doctors on your medical team.
• Radiationoncologistsaredoctorswhotreatcancer with radiation.
• Medicaloncologistsaredoctorswhotreatcancer with medicine.
• Surgeons are doctors who perform operations.
Early Screening | Prevention
Screening is when a test is used to look for a disease before there are any symptoms. Cancer screening tests are effective when they can find disease early, which can lead to more effective treatment. (Diagnostic tests are used when a person has symptoms. The purpose
of diagnostic tests is to find out, or diagnose, what is causing the symptoms. Diagnostic tests also may be used to check a person who is considered at high risk for cancer.)
Of all the gynecologic cancers, only cervical cancer has a screening test—the Pap test—that can find this cancer early, when treatment works best. The Pap test also helps prevent cervical cancer by finding precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. In addition to the Pap test, which is the main screening test for cervical cancer, a test called the HPV test looks for HPV infection. It can be used along with the Pap test for screening women aged 30 years and older. It also is used to provide more information when Pap test results are unclear for women aged 21 and older. Learn more about the Pap and HPV tests.

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