Gynecologic cancer affects the organs of the female reproductive system, primarily the cervix, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina, and vulva. Each year, approximately 82,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with gynecologic cancer.
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent gynecologic cancers, there are things you can do to reduce your risk. In addition to eating a healthy diet and following an exercise program, experts agree that there are four steps you can take to protect your gynecologic health. .
If someone in your family, especially your mother, sister, or maternal aunt, has been diagnosed with gynecologic cancer, you are at greater risk for developing the disease. This is especially true with ovarian cancer. By being aware of your family medical history and sharing this information with your doctor, you and your doctor can determine if there are specific screening tests that you should undergo. .
Don't be afraid to talk with your doctor about gynecologic cancer and about any symptoms or questions you may have. Before your next gynecologic exam, write down your questions and concerns. Share them with your doctor. It is also important to know the warning signs of gynecologic cancers and to be knowledgeable about how to detect and prevent these types of cancers. .
Annual gynecologic exams are the best way to detect any unusual changes in your reproductive organs or any signs of cancer. Annual PAP tests are an important way to detect cervical cancer in its early stages, when it is most treatable. Depending on your age, you may also be given an HPV test for the human papillomavirus, which may be linked to cancer of the cervix. .
Be sure you understand your risk for each type of gynecologic cancer. Talk with your doctor about specific risk factors, screening tests, and preventative measures. .
To reduce your risk of cancer: .