Posted on: September 18, 2012


Dr. Gigi Chen September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month and the Foundation for Women’s Cancer reminds everyone that it is important to LEARN about risk factors and symptoms of gynecologic cancers, LISTEN to your body for symptoms and ACT to reduce your risk and take preventive steps. Steady medical progress has been made in the field of gynecologic cancers. Of particular promise is better understanding of the risks, symptoms and prevention of the three most prevalent gynecologic cancers: cervical cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. Cervical cancer is preventable and most often caused by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). Most often there are no symptoms. Watch for bleeding after intercourse or excessive discharge or bleeding between periods. It is recommended to get vaccinated for the HPV virus before you become sexually active, to get pap tests regularly when recommended and stop smoking. Uterine/Endometrial Cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer. It usually occurs around the time of menopause, but younger women are also at risk. The pap test does not screen for uterine cancer so knowing ones family history of endometrial or colon cancer is important information to share with your primary care physician. The use of estrogen alone or tamoxifen have proven to be possible risk factors as well. Listen to your body for these symptoms: bleeding after menopause and abnormal, irregular or very heavy vaginal bleeding in younger women. If you have these symptoms, you should receive an endometrial biopsy. You can also reduce your risk by managing your weight and keeping your blood pressure and blood sugar under control. One in 71 women will develop ovarian cancer. There is no screening for ovarian cancer and only 15% are detected at the earliest most curable stage. Knowing ones family history of ovarian and breast cancer is important. Infertility and not bearing children are risk factors while pregnancy and the use of birth control pills decrease risk. If you have bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, urinary urgency or frequency symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks, and they are persistent and unusual for you, it is important to report these symptoms to your primary care physician. Help the women in your life understand and reduce the risks for these cancers. It is through symptom recognition that the earliest possible diagnosis can be made. Gigi Chen, MD is a Medical Oncologist and Hematologist with Diablo Valley Oncology. Dr. Chen focuses on treating patients with gynecologic cancer, lung cancers and blood disorders. Diablo Valley Oncology’s comprehensive cancer center is located at the California Cancer and Research Institute in Pleasant Hill. For more information call 925-677-5041. Tags: , ,