Gynecological cancer is the group of 5 cancers that affects the reproductive system of women. The different types of gynecological cancer include:
Cervical Cancer: This type of cancer occurs when malignant cells form in the lining of the cervix, which connects the womb to the vagina. In India, this disease is prevalent among women in the age group of 55-59 years. Moreover, a large proportion of women report this disease in the advanced stages.
Ovarian Cancer: The ovaries lie on either side of the uterus. Ovarian cancer refers to a chronic condition when the cells in the ovaries grow and spread rapidly, attacking healthy tissues in the process. Occasionally, these cells may come from the fallopian tubes that are located near the ovaries. Ovarian cancer is the second most common type of gynecological cancer.
Vaginal Cancer: Vaginal cancer is a rare type of gynecological cancer that begins inside the vagina. This type of cancer is mostly found in women above 60 years of age.
Vulval Cancer: Vulval cancer is also a rare condition that has a severe impact on the external sex organs of females. Malignant cells usually form in the inner edges of the two pairs of lips of the vulva - the inner and outer labia. It may also develop on the skin between the lips or the clitoris and in the gap between the vulva and the anus.
Uterine Cancer (also referred to as womb cancer or endometrial cancer):Uterine cancer or womb cancer is the most common type of gynecological cancer. The endometrium lines the womb and this is where majority of womb cancers develop. Women who report vaginal bleeding after menopause are asked to go for tests to inspect the lining of the womb.
Some of the signs and symptoms of gynecological cancer are as follows:
Excessive vaginal bleeding or discharge
Pelvic pain or uneasiness
Abdominal or back pain
Frequent urination, constipation and diarrhea
Itching or burning of the vulva
Rashes or ulcers near the vulva
Laparoscopy - a minimally invasive treatment - is the preferred treatment for cervical cancer, uterine cancer and ovarian cancer.
The alarmingly high rates of prevalence of gynecological cancer in Indian women suggest that prevention is the need of the day. Here are some ways to help women prevent or detect this rare condition at the early stages:
Be alert to changes in your body: It might be difficult to recognize symptoms of gynecological cancer. Hence, it's important for you to be aware of your body and immediately report any abnormal changes.
Vaccinate yourself against HPV: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infections that remain in the body might increase the risk of acquiring this rare condition. Hence, it would be advisable to vaccinate yourself against this deadly virus. Furthermore, implement safe sex practices to protect yourself from gynecological cancer.
Go for periodical Pap tests: Pap tests are the most reliable and effective tests for detecting cervical cancer. Women in the age group of 21-65 years should get Pap tests done as per the instructions of their gynecologists.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Adopt a healthy lifestyle, avoid smoking or being a passive smoker and encourage safe sex practices.
Understand your family health history: Certain women might have a family history of ovarian cancer. In such cases, the medical practitioner might suggest genetic testing to help in detecting gynecological cancer at the early stages.
Can-C conducted 6-7 camps on women's day to spread awareness about gynecological cancer.