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gyno cancers September is Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month and a good time for a pop quiz – can you name all of the types of cancer that can affect a woman's reproductive organs? Many of us know a few of them, but there are others with their own symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are five main types of gynecological cancer:

Ovarian Cancer:  This cancer that starts in the organ that makes female hormones and produces eggs causes more deaths than any other gynecological cancer. Unfortunately, early diagnosis is very difficult and uncommon, as there is no effective screening test. Pelvic ultrasounds, Ca-125 testing, and genetic testing can be utilized in high risk women. Advanced ovarian cancer can have symptoms such as:

 Vaginal bleeding or discharge that's not normal for you.
 Back pain or pain in the area below your stomach and between your hip bones.
 A bloated feeling in the area below your stomach.
 Feeling full quickly while eating.
A change in your bathroom habits, such as increased urination, constipation, or diarrhea.

Cervical Cancer: This is a cancer of the lower, narrow end of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Cervical cancer is highly preventable because of screening tests and a vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections that are linked to cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer may not have any symptoms in its early stages, and that's why a pap test at the appropriate intervals for a particular woman is important. Advanced cervical cancer may cause unusual bleeding or discharge from the vagina, such as bleeding after sex.

Uterine Cancer: This cancer begins in the uterus, the pear-shaped organ where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. A common form of uterine cancer is known as endometrial cancer because it forms in the lining of the uterus called the endometrium.

Uterine cancer may cause vaginal discharge or bleeding that's not normal for you, especially if you are already menopausal. It may also cause other symptoms, such as pain or pressure in your pelvis.

Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer: These cancers occur in the outermost parts of the reproductive system. Vulvar cancer starts in the vulva, the outer part of the female genital organs with two folds of skin called the labia. Vulvar cancer most often occurs on the inner edges of the labia.

Vulvar cancer can cause itching, burning, or bleeding on the vulva; changes in the color of the skin of the vulva making it look redder or whiter than normal, or skin changes in the vulva, including what looks like a rash or warts.

Early-stage vaginal cancer may not have any symptoms, which is one of the reasons that annual pelvic exams are still recommended, even if you are not having a “Pap smear” that year.

98,000 American women will be diagnosed with a gynecological cancer this year, and almost 30,000 will die. Don't be part of that grim statistic. Monitor yourself for these symptoms, and schedule an annual visit with your provider who can conduct screening and testing.

 

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax