Gynecological Cancers constitute the biggest chunk of cancers in Indian women, and it is a sad truth that most people are unaware of their early presentation. It goes without saying that cancers detected at an early stage have a higher chance of getting cured with a lesser hit to the body.
Even innocuous symptoms may be harbingers of a greater evil like cancer if they are ignored. You may witness:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Abdominal or back pain
- Changes in bathroom habits (increased urination, constipation, diarrhoea)
- Itching or burning in the vulva
- Changes in colour or skin rash, sores, warts, ulcers in the vulval region
Discourage the spread of Cancer- How?
There are two ways to safeguard against these cancers.
- You can either reduce the risk of getting these cancers or help it detect early. Cervical cancer can be prevented by regular screenings and by preventive vaccination. Since nearly all cervical cancers are caused by a persistent infection with HPV, vaccinating women and young girls before they are sexually active can lead to the greatest prevention of pre-cancer and cancer.
- Limiting the number of sexual partners and encouraging the usage of condom.
Smoking also adds to the risk of cancer. It is imperative to ignore any symptoms that persist for two weeks or longer and are not normal.
How can you detect Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancers can be detected early with regular Pap tests. Pap tests, which can find precancerous changes on the cervix, are one of the most reliable and effective screening tests available. Women should have their first Pap smear at 3 yearly intervals with the first being at 21yrs. Women with 65 years and above can stop these screening tests.
Make sure to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, avoid smoking and practice safe sex. If a family has a history of ovarian cancer, genetic testing and counselling are recommended.