By Emily Tran, PHRC Westlake Village
September marks Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, an important time to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and preventive measures for several types of gynecologic cancers.
Gynecologic cancers refer to several different types of cancer that affect women’s reproductive organs, including cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancer. While these cancers are commonly diagnosed in women over age 50, it is important to be aware of the various symptoms and risk factors associated with each type so that proper screening can be performed.
For example, cervical cancer is often caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and can typically be prevented through vaccination or a regular pap smear test. Uterine cancer can also be detected early with regular screening; however, symptoms such as abnormal bleeding or pelvic pain should not be overlooked as they could indicate more serious issues. Ovarian cancer may present with subtle symptoms such as bloating or changes in appetite but can also present with no warning signs at all. It is important to speak with your doctor if you experience any of these signs or symptoms as early detection is key to successful treatment.
It is also critical to recognize certain risk factors for gynecologic cancers such as genetics and family history; racial/ethnic background; environmental exposures; obesity; smoking; menopausal hormone therapy and previous history of breast or ovarian cancer (source: American Cancer Society).
According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 79, 844 new cases of gynecologic cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2021 and around 24,580 women are expected to die from one of these types of cancer this year.
Gynecologic cancers account for approximately 10% of all new cancer cases among women each year and 6% of female cancer deaths annually (source: National Cancers Institute).
Additionally, the mortality rates for gynecologic cancers vary widely from type to type; cervical cancer mortality is much lower than that for ovarian and uterine cancers (source: American Cancer Society)
Gynecologic cancers not only affect the reproductive organs, but also have a significant impact on pelvic health. As such, many women experience physical and emotional changes after being diagnosed with gynecologic cancer or undergoing treatment for it. Common health problems associated with gynecologic cancer include: pain and fatigue, urinary and bowel difficulties, lymphedema (swelling caused by an accumulation of fluid), infertility, sexual dysfunction, depression, anxiety and other psychological issues (source: American Cancer Society).
Pelvic rehabilitation can help improve physical function, reduce symptoms related to pelvic floor dysfunction as well as decrease both pain levels and the risk of recurrence or progression of the disease (source: International Pelvic Pain Society). With the right support from experts in the field, gynecologic cancer survivors can be empowered to manage their pelvic health post-cancer treatment and reclaim their lives!
We are excited to announce Molly will be helping PHRC open their 11th location in Columbus, OH in September of 2023. Join the waitlist and be the first to be contacted!
Are you unable to come see us in person in the Bay Area, Southern California or New England? We offer virtual physical therapy appointments too!
Virtual sessions are available with PHRC pelvic floor physical therapists via our video platform, Zoom, or via phone. For more information and to schedule, please visit our digital healthcare page.
Melissa Patrick is a certified yoga instructor and meditation teacher and is also available virtually to help, for more information please visit our therapeutic yoga page.
Do you enjoy or blog and want more content from PHRC? Please head over to social media!