Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month
"You are not alone
in your fight against
As the gentle autumn breeze fills the air, September (1st - 30th) brings with it not only a shift in seasons but also a significant focus on women's health. This is because September is gynecologic cancer awareness month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the various forms of gynecologic cancers that affect women around the world. In this blog, we embark on a journey to shed light on these often misunderstood and under-discussed diseases. We'll explore the key aspects of gynecologic cancers, their risk factors, symptoms, prevention strategies, and the importance of regular screenings.
History Of The Day
The month was established in 2009 by the Foundation for Women's Cancer (FWC), a non-profit that works to improve the quality of life for women living with cancer. The FWC chose the month of September for GCAM due to the fact that it is the anniversary date of the passing of the renowned gynecologist Dr. Georgios Papicolaou. Pap tests are screening tests for cervical cancer and are one of the best ways to detect and treat cervical cancer.
The International Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month (GCAM) is a worldwide celebration of gynecologic cancers. The American Cancer Society (ACS), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and National Ovarian Cancer (Ovarian Cancer NCA) host annual GCAM events and educational campaigns to promote gynecological cancer screening among women.
Theme Of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month
Gynecologic cancer awareness month 2023’s theme is "Ending cervical cancer within a few generations". The aim is to increase awareness of cervical cancer, one of the easiest cancers to treat when caught early and treated appropriately. Did you know, every year in India, 122,844 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 67,477 die from this disease
What Is Gynecologic Cancer?
A gynecologic cancer is a type of cancer that affects the female reproductive system. The term gynecologic refers to the part of the body that contains the body’s reproductive organs. The term “female reproductive tract” is used to describe the area of the female reproductive system that includes the cervical, uterine, ovary, fallopian tube, vagina, vulva, etc. Each type of gynecologic cancer has its own unique characteristics. These characteristics include the location of the cancer, the risk factors for the cancer, the symptoms, and the treatment options.
Five Main Types Of Gynecological Cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Vulvar cancer
- Vaginal cancer
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cervical cavity. The cervical cavity is the lower portion of the uterine cavity that connects the vagina to the uterus. The most common type of cervical cancer is HPV-positive.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Painful urination
- Pelvic problems
- Swelling in the legs
Ovarian cancer is the most common type of cancer of the ovaries. The ovaries are two small organs located on either side of the uterus.
- Abdominal bloating or swelling
- Pelvic discomfort or pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary urgency or frequency
- Upset stomach or heartburn
- Back pain
- Pain during sex
- Constipation or menstrual changes (less common)
Endometrial cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, is a type of cancer that begins in the lining of your uterus. Most endometrial cancers are caused by unmetabolized estrogen, a hormone produced by your ovaries.
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Watery, blood-tinged, or unusual vaginal discharge, particularly if it's clear and pink
- Weight loss (unintentional)
Vulva cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the area of the vulva (outer female genitalia). It is one of the rarest gynecological cancers. Most vulvar cancers are HPV-positive.
- Persistent itching, pain, or tenderness in the vulva
- Changes in the color or texture of the skin of the vulva
- A lump, bump, or thickened area on the vulva that may or may not be painful
- Bleeding that is not related to menstruation (especially if you are postmenopausal)
- Painful urination
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Open sores or ulcers on the vulva that do not heal
- Swollen lymph nodes in the groin
Vagina cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the vagina. The vagina is the part of your body that connects your vulva to your cervix. The lining of your vagina is the muscular tube that connects your uterus to the outside of your body. Women who are over 60 are most likely to develop vagina cancer.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, which may occur between periods, after sexual intercourse, or after menopause.
- Unusual vaginal discharge that may be bloody, watery, or foul-smelling.
- Pelvic pain or pain during sexual intercourse.
- Family history: People with a family history of this cancer are more likely to develop the disease.
- Age: It increases the risk of getting gynecological cancer
- Race and ethnicity: Certain racial and ethnic groups have a higher risk of certain gynecological cancer types, such as cervical cancer in african american women
- Personal history: If you have had certain conditions (e.g. endometriosis, abnormal Pap tests)
- Lifestyle factors: Certain lifestyle habits, including smoking and being overweight, can increase your risk of getting this cancer.
- HPV Vaccination: One of the most effective ways to prevent cervical cancer is by getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common virus that can lead to cervical and other gynecological cancers. The HPV vaccine is recommended for both girls and boys and is typically administered during adolescence.
- Regular Screening: Regular screenings such as Pap smears and HPV tests are essential for early detection and prevention of cervical cancer. These tests can detect precancerous changes in the cervix, allowing for early intervention and treatment.
- Safe Sexual Practices: Practicing safe sex by using condoms can help reduce the risk of HPV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which are linked to gynecological cancers.
- Smoking Cessation: Smoking is a major risk factor for cervical and vulvar cancers. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce your risk of developing these cancers.
- Limiting Multiple Sexual Partners: Having multiple sexual partners or having sex with someone who has multiple partners can increase the risk of STIs, including HPV. Limiting sexual partners can reduce this risk.
- Good Hygiene: Maintaining good genital hygiene can help prevent vulvar and vaginal cancers. This includes keeping the genital area clean and dry and avoiding harsh chemicals or douching.
- Healthy Diet: A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can provide essential nutrients and antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of gynecological cancers. Consume food which prevents cancer and avoiding excessive consumption of processed foods and red meat is also advisable.
- Weight Management: Obesity is associated with an increased risk of endometrial cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet can help mitigate this risk.
- Family History And Genetic Testing: Understanding your family history of cancer and, if necessary, undergoing genetic testing can identify if you are at higher risk for certain gynecological cancers. This information can inform a personalized prevention plan.
- Regular Check-Ups: Routine check-ups with a healthcare provider are crucial for monitoring and addressing any gynecological health concerns. Discuss your family history, lifestyle, and any symptoms or concerns during these visits.
Ways To Raise Awareness
- Wear pink or teal, the colors of gynecological cancer awareness.
- Share information about gynecological cancer on social media.
- Donate to a gynecological cancer research or support organization.
- Volunteer your time to a gynecological cancer organization.
To wrap it up, gynecological cancers are no joke. They mess with the most vital parts. But remember, we've got ways to fight back. First off, get that HPV vaccine. It's a super shield against this cancer. Regular check-ups are non-negotiable. Don't skip them. And if something doesn't feel right down there, speak up! Early detection is our best friend.
As we dive into gynecological cancer awareness month, let's make some noise. Share what you've learned, encourage people to stay on top of screenings, and support research that's kicking cancer's butt. Remember, it's all about taking charge of your health. Together, we have the power to fight these cancers and ensure they don't mess with our lady parts. Stay fierce! #GynoCancerFighters
"Gynecological cancer awareness saves lives."