CANCER , PREVENTION & WOMEN :
Cancer incidence in women is increasing every decade. The reasons for the same are many – Change in lifestyle, unhealthy food habits, change in life patters and most importantly the habit of women ignoring their health. According to statistics 40% of the women ignore the warning signs of breast and cervical cancer. 75% of the diseases are detected and diagnosed at their advanced stages only. The need of the hour is to create awareness about cancer and motivate women to opt for periodic preventive health checkups. Given below are few cancers that are gaining rate exponentially:
Cervical Cancer- The Cancer of the Cervix – Mouth of the uterus:
Risk factors for cervical cancer are having sexual encounters at an early age, having multiple sexual partners and poor genital hygiene. Symptoms of cervical cancer are
- Blood in vaginal discharge
- Unusual bleeding between periods
- Unusual bleeding after intercourse
For early detection of cervical cancer a Pap test should be done every year if over 18 years or sexually active. Cervical cancer testing should start at age 21. Women under age 21 should not be tested. Women between ages 21 and 29 should have a Pap test done every 3 years.
HPV testing should not be used in this age group unless it’s needed after an abnormal Pap test result. Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test (called “co-testing”) done every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it’s OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years. Women over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results should not be tested for cervical cancer. Once testing is stopped, it should not be started again.
Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue to be tested for at least 20 years after that diagnosis, even if testing continues past age 65. A woman who has had her uterus removed (and also her cervix) for reasons not related to cervical cancer and who has no history of cervical cancer or serious pre-cancer should not be tested.
A woman who has been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening recommendations for her age group. The treatment is usually surgery, if the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. Radiotherapy is useful in all stages of disease.
Endometrial Cancer – Cancer within the uterus:
It usually occurs among older women and is influenced by genetic predisposition to the disease. The risk of endometrial cancer is high if age is more than 40 years, obese females, females who are taking hormones, are infertile and who do not ovulate. The warning signals are blood in vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding – bleeding other than menstrual flow. If only the uterus has been affected, a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) helps. If the cancer has spread, the surgery must be followed up with radiotherapy. Chemotherapy is used in advanced conditions.
Ovarian Cancer – Cancer in the ovaries:
Ovarian cancer occur in the ovaries, which produces the ova or eggs. This type of cancer is common among older women. The major symptoms of disease are discomfort in the lower abdomen, swelling of the abdomen, loss of weight, back ache and occasional breathlessness. The vast majority of women diagnosed with first and second stage ovarian cancer survive with proper treatment. If the cancer is caught in the first stage, cure is possible through surgery. This is supplemented with radiation for second-stage cancers. Chemotherapy is used only in the final stages.
Prevention is better than cure:
A periodic health check is a woman’s best bet against Cancer. Regular screening tests can detect cancer right in the beginning and intercepting the cancer early, means a more effective cure and a higher survival rate. It is advisable that everyone go in for screening examinations regularly, but this is a must for people in high-risk groups. The sooner cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the patient’s chances for a full recovery. But nothing can be done if our women folks do not develop self-love for themselves, for their bodies, for the sake of their own good health, for the sake of enjoying their lives to the fullest in a healthy way, and for the sake of their families and their loves ones! Hence, need of the hour is, to start loving yourself!!!