September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month: How to Watch for “Female” Cancers
Except for cervical cancer, for which there is the Pap Test, there are no tests or screenings to detect cancer, especially at an early stage, in other female organs. This includes ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer. One of the best things a woman can do is to know her body extremely well and watch for any symptoms or changes, including any abnormal vaginal bleeding and, in particular, any bleeding after menopause.
Also, report any abnormalities of the skin around the vulva and anus. If she does notice symptoms or changes, she should report those to her doctor. The symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is for her to contact her doctor.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has created this chart that lists possible symptoms and the gynecologic cancer they are most commonly associated with. As always, your doctor is your best resource when it comes to your health, so don’t rely solely on this information.
You should also talk with your doctor if you think you might be at a higher risk for gynecologic cancer, due to heredity, lifestyle, etc., and ask if there are things you can do to lower your risk. If you want to reduce your chance of any type of cancer, not just gynecologic, here’s what you can do:
- Stop smoking or don’t start.
- Move. Even 30 minutes of moderate activity each day can help.
- Eat more vegetables and fruit.
- Watch your weight.
- Eliminate alcohol.
- Eliminate stress or at least find ways to reduce stress.
- Know your family history. Many cancers can be hereditary, such as colon cancer. If you have a history, then you need to tell your doctor and test, if possible, for it regularly.
If you are concerned about gynecologic or other types of cancer, you can call OHC at 800-710-4674 and request an appointment to discuss your concerns. OHC has experts in many fields of cancer including “female” cancers.