Cancer Screening & Prevention

Cancer is obviously a terrifying and often deadly disease. But it can be prevented or treated if identified early. There are many cancers that just affect women: cervical, breast, uterine, ovarian, vaginal and vulvar – to name a few. With regular screening and follow up many of these cancers can be prevented. For instance, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “6 out of 10 cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not been tested in the past five years.”

Cervical Cancer can be identified early through the use of two test:

  • The Pap test (Pap Smear) which looks for precancers and cell changes in the cervix.
  • The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for a virus that is known for causing changes in the cells which lead to cancer.

The Thin Prep pap & HPV tesst, along with a pelvic exam is an important part of a woman’s yearly preventative health care program. The exams may detect abnormalities that can lead to invasive cancer. Most invasive cancers of the cervix can be detected early if a woman has a Thin Prep pap test and pelvic examination regularly. As with many types of cancer, cancer of the cervix is more likely to be successfully treated if it is detected early. The Thin Prep pap test can also detect other changes in the cervix and vagina such as inflammation. Women who are age 21 and older, should have pap tests and pelvic examinations regularly. Generally, there is no upper age at which pap tests cease to be effective. Older women should continue to have regular physical examinations including pelvic exams and pap tests. Recommended Pap test frequency varies by patient history.

Talk to your doctor about the Gardisil Vaccination which is a vaccine which protects against cervical cancer. Girls and women ages 9 to 26 should consider Gardisil to help prevent the following diseases:

  • Cervical Cancer
  • Genital Warts
  • Abnormal and precancerous cervical, vaginal, vulvar lesions

Uterine Cancer typically occurs in women who are going through or have gone through menopause, although all women are at risk. Signs and symptoms of uterine cancer include:

  • Bleeding that is not normal because of when it happens and how heavy it is; this includes bleeding after menopause
  • Periods that are longer than seven days
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvis

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Ovarian Cancer is the leading cause of female cancer deaths, but it can be treated effectively if caught early. All women are at risk for ovarian cancer but it typically occurs in women 55 years of age and older; most cases (about 90%) occur in women 40 years of age and older. Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer include the following:

  • Pain in the pelvic or abdominal area
  • Back pain
  • Being tired all of the time
  • Bloating
  • Change in bathroom habits such as passing urine badly or more often
  • Upset stomach or heartburn
  • Vaginal discharge that is not normal for you

Talk to your doctor if any of these signs and symptoms persist every day for two weeks or more):

Vaginal Cancer and Vulvar Cancer are both rare. When these cancers are found, in particular Vulvar Cancer, treatment is often effective.