This Women’s Day, we focus on women’s health & the ways we can improve it.
It has been proven that cancer affects women less frequently when compared to men. In recent trends, women have survived the disease more than men. Yet, one in every three women will be diagnosed with cancer at least once in their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute.
A number of cancers are specific to women. Ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer are just to name a few. The majority of women do not have knowledge about these cancers and hence are oblivious of the diseases that can be fatal to their lives. Knowledge and awareness about these life-threatening diseases is the first step to conquer the fight against cancer.
Overview: Ovarian cancer derives its name from ovaries – a female organ that produces eggs for reproduction. The disease starts at the ovaries which can later spread to the rest of the body. This cancer usually goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and stomach. It is extremely fatal at this stage.
Who can get it: Ovarian cancer can occur at any stage of life but older women are more likely to get it. Women with a family history of hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC or Lynch Syndrome), breast cancer, ovarian cancer are at an increased risk. However, women who do not fulfill any of these criteria can also get ovarian cancer.
When to see a doctor: Though there is no specific screening for ovarian cancer, women who have the following symptoms for more than a few weeks should get in touch with a medical oncologist.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:
- Abdominal swelling with weight loss
- Digestive problems
- Pelvic/ Abdominal pain
- Need to urinate all the time.
Overview: A malignant tumor in the cervix – the lowermost part of the uterus is called cervical cancer. Human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause chronic infections which is one of the major risks that can lead to cervical cancer.
Who can get it: All women are at risk of cervical cancer. However, women above the age of 30 are more susceptible to it.
When to see a doctor: In case you notice any of the below symptoms, it is advisable to visit the doctor.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer:
- Bleeding in between menstruation cycles
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse.
For preventing cervical cancer, it is suggested for women to get the complete dose of HPV vaccine shots. Hematology BMT Institute International vaccinates children and adults against HPV.
Overview: Cancer in the inner lining of the uterus or endometrium is known as endometrial cancer.
Who can get it: As women get older the risk of the disease increases. Teens with early onset of periods, women with delayed menopause, and family history of infertility can multiply the risks. A family history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), obesity, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC or Lynch syndrome) is also add-on risks.
When to visit a doctor: See a doctor, if you notice any of the below symptoms, it is advisable to visit the doctor.
Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge.
- Vaginal discharge ranging from pink to thick, brown, water, and foul-smelling.
- Painful urination.
- An enlarged uterus, detectable during a pelvic exam.
Overview: The cancer of the breasts is known as breast cancer.
Who can get it: It is the most common cancer in women after skin cancer. Although it can occur at any stage, the risks increase as women get older. Women with uterine myoma are more susceptible to breast cancer.
Women should go for regular screenings like mammograms and should generally know how their breasts look and feel. Any changes that are witnessed should be directly reported to the oncologists for early detection.
When to see a doctor: Women can perform a self-exam for checking breast cancer. If any of the following symptoms are seen, it is recommended to check with your doctor:
Symptoms of Breast Cancer:
- Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
- A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
- Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
- Lumps in your breasts
Due to the anatomy of a female body, women are more susceptible to a number of diseases, and when it comes to breast, endometrial, cervical, ovarian cancer, even more so. Regular screening and self-examination can save women the hassle of going through life-threatening medical conditions.
Dr. S.K. Gupta, founder of Hematology BMT Institute International insists, “regular screening can avoid huge risks. Women should know that the most reliable way to detect cancer early on is regular screening.”
While all cancers cannot be prevented, we can surely focus on lowering the risks by taking necessary precautions and getting vaccinated. A cancer-free world is not a far-fetched dream with adequate cancer awareness and alertness.