Although they can occur at any age, they are most often found in the middle to later age groups.
They are easily cured by early detection.
What are the main reproductive cancers among women?
A cancer that forms in the tissues of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. It is a slow growing cancer that may not show symptoms, but can be detected by regular PAP smears.
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer. It is a method of preventing cancer by detecting and treating early abnormalities which if left untreated can lead to cancer of the cervix.
This is carried out by regular PAP smears. During a PAP test, the doctor scrapes a small sample of cells from the surface of cervix, to look for cell changes. If the test shows abnormal cells, the doctor may do other tests to look for precancerous or cancer cells on your cervix.
Your doctor may also do a PAP test and take a sample of tissue (Biopsy), if you have symptoms of cervical cancer, like bleeding after sex.
When the PAP smear reveals abnormal results a colposcopy exam in performed. It is a microscope which magnifies the cervix 5-20 times. This is when a cervical biopsy (sample of cervical tissue) is taken.
Three treatment methods are commonly used to treat cervical cancer:
More than 95% of the time HPV 16/18 is associated with cervical cancers.
Ovarian cancer occurs when there is an abnormal growth in one or both of your ovaries. Most of the time, the cancer has is advanced by the time it is found.
Ovarian cancer does not usually cause symptoms at first.
The most common symptoms are
But these symptoms are so non specific that they are more likely to be blamed on a number of other causes. Most of the time, the cancer has already spread by the time it is found.
Sometimes the doctor may feel a lump in the ovary during a routine vaginal examination. Often a lump may be seen during an ultrasound. Most lumps are not cancerous.
The only way to know for sure that a woman has ovarian cancer is with biopsies taken during surgery.
There is a blood test called CA-125 (cancer antigen 125) that is sometimes done to look for cancer in women at high risk. This is not a specific test though a level >200 is highly suggestive.
Surgery is the main treatment option. The doctor will remove any tumors that he or she can see. This usually means taking out one or both ovaries (oopherectomy). It may also mean taking out the fallopian tubes and uterus (hysterectomy). After surgery, most women have several months of chemotherapy, which means taking drugs that kill cancer cells.
This cancer often comes back after treatment. So you will need regular checkups for the rest of your life. If your cancer does come back, treatment may help you feel better and live longer.
What is endometrial cancer?
Endometrial cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the inner lining of the uterus. The lining is called the endometrium.
Endometrial cancer usually occurs in women older than 50. The good news is that it is usually cured when it is found early. And most of the time, the cancer is found in its earliest stage, before it has spread outside the uterus.
Investigations of abnormal vaginal bleeding:
Initially an ultrasound scan will be done to determine the thickness of the endometrial lining. Endometrial cancer is diagnosed by using a microscope to examine a sample of endometrial tissue if the scan shows a thickened endometrium. The tissue can be obtained by an office endometrial biopsy (pipelle) or a day surgical procedure (dilatation and curettage).
What is breast cancer
Breast cancer is the uncontrolled growth of breast cells. This can occur in the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although in men breast cancer is rare.
A risk factor is anything that increases your risk of developing breast cancer.
There are some risk factors that you are in control of. A simple change in your lifestyle will reduce your risk of acquiring breast cancer. These risk factors are:
Risk factors that are not under your control are:
Initially, breast cancer may not cause any symptoms. Often, an abnormal area turns up on a screening mammogram (x-ray of the breast) or ultrasound scan, which leads to further testing.
Any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:
These changes also can be signs of less serious conditions that are not cancerous, such as an infection or a cyst. It’s important to get any breast changes checked out promptly by a doctor.
The purpose of screening is to find breast cancer early, before any symptoms can develop and the cancer usually is easier to treat. When caught early, localized breast cancers can be treated without resorting to breast removal (mastectomy).
Screening tests such as mammograms or ultrasound scanning (if <40 years of age) of the breast are done to people who appear to be healthy and are not suspected of having breast cancer. Women also need to practice breast self-examination and get regular breast examinations by an experienced health care professional.
In recent years, there’s been many advances in treatment against breast cancer. Today there’s a variety of treatment choices that include surgery, radiation, hormonal (anti-estrogen) therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
Breast cancer is diagnosed using the ‘triple assessment’:
After a breast cancer diagnosis, you and your doctors will put together a treatment plan specific to your situation, based on your pathology report.