Even though I had breast cancer, I have a high risk of getting other cancers as well. Because I’m BRCA positive, I have a gene mutation effects they way my body fights cancer.
In 2015, I had my fallopian tubes removed and in 2018 I had to lower my risk of ovarian cancer.
Below, is an article by Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology about gynecological cancers to help with prevention and improved prognosis.
What Women Need to Know About the Five Gynecological Cancers
Guest post about health by Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology
Gynecologic cancer is a disease that causes cancerous cell growth in female reproductive organs, specifically the cervix, ovaries, uterus, vagina or vulva. While gynecological cancers are sometimes preventable, they kill more than 300,000 women worldwide each year. In 2018 in the U.S., there were an estimated 110,070 new cases diagnosed and approximately 32,120 deaths from gynecologic cancers.
Because early detection can significantly impact a woman’s prognosis and treatment, all women should be aware of the different gynecologic cancers, particularly the symptoms. In this guide, we’ll discuss the five major gynecologic cancers and common signs and symptoms.
Cervical cancer is a disease in which the cells on the cervix grow abnormally or form a tumor. Many cervical cancers are caused by HPV, an infection usually contracted through sexual intercourse with an infected person. Cervical cancer can affect other parts of the body as well. The most common age range for patients is 30 to 59 years old, but cervical cancer can affect women from adolescence into their 70s.
The most common cervical cancer symptoms include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding (bleeding or spotting between periods)
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Vaginal discharge with a strong odor
- Dense vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain
Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which is why it is often undetected until the cancer cells have spread to the pelvis. Early-stage ovarian cancer, which is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully. The most common treatment methods for ovarian cancer are surgery and chemotherapy.
Ovarian cancer symptoms include the following:
- Abdominal bloating
- Discomfort in the pelvis area
- Bowel movement changes
- Frequent urination
- Unexplained weight loss
The exact causes of uterine cancers remain unknown. However, there are factors increasing the risk of developing uterine cancer, including endometrial overgrowth (hyperplasia), estrogen therapy and a family history of uterine cancer. Studies have also shown that more cases of uterine cancer have been detected in women who hit menopause after age 55, have never had children or had their first period before age 12. Treatment options for uterine cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.
Common symptoms of uterine cancer include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal discharge
- Pain when urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pelvic pains
Vaginal cancer is a rare cancer most commonly occurring in the cells that line the surface of the vagina, often referred to as the birth canal.
Symptoms of vaginal cancer include:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic pain
- Watery vaginal discharge
- A lump in the vagina
- Painful and frequent urination
Vulvar cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer that affects the external genital organs, most commonly the outer lips of the vagina.
Typical symptoms of vulvar cancer include changes in the outer lips of the vagina, such as:
- Wart-like growths
- Thickened skin
- Persistent genital itching
- Dark discoloration
- Pain and burning
Rachel K. Belkin, M.Ed, is a journalist and writer with over 15 years of expertise in travel, business and marketing education, health, and local Austin, Texas events.
With a Master's degree in education from Texas State University and a Business Foundations Certification from The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, Rachel's extensive background is highlighted by her published works and contributions to prestigious publications, including HuffPost, Hometalk, Matador Network, AP News, and MSN.com, as well as on her own platforms, Rachel K. Belkin, Elkin Bay, and Probe the Globe.
Beyond her accomplishments in writing, Rachel is a sought-after educator, teaching businesses effective marketing strategies and content creation techniques. Notably, she successfully built a blog from scratch in 2008, ultimately selling it for six figures in 2021.
Rachel's commitment to advocacy is exemplified by her role on the Breast Cancer Resource Center Advisory Council, particularly contributing to the success of the Young Survivor Project. Rachel is also an experienced public speaker with appearances on TV segments for Fox 7 Austin, KXAN, and CBS Austin and as a speaker at conferences and professional networking meetings for business owners and cancer survivors.