Raising Ovarian Gynecologic Cancer Awareness

Raising Ovarian Gynecologic Cancer Awareness

Many of us have some form of gynecologic cancer running in our family. Or we know someone with a form of cancer. Despite its popularity in cancer diagnoses, many people are still unaware of the risk factors. The same goes for how they relate to their lifestyle. This is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month. So, why not take a few minutes to read about the different types of gynecologic cancer? In particular, ovarian cancer, the risk factors involved, and the role of ovarian cancer testing. All of this plays a role in your approach to your best preventative care!

Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month is here

While this is not the most exciting holiday out there, you must know about it to protect your health. There are three main types of gynecologic cancer. These include cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer. Generally, ovarian cancer is the most popular for diagnosis and general knowledge. There is a reason for that.

Cervical cancer and uterine cancer can be screened for using a variety of tests, including your yearly smear test. Yet, ovarian cancer can’t be detected through that same method. Your GP would need to send you for more testing, which isn't always done. That’s why at-home ovarian cancer testing is a good idea for those who want to take control of their screening and testing.

Gynecologic cancer is most common in older women, as you’ll learn, but it is also possible in teens and young adults. This is why yearly screening starts so young!

What are the risk factors of gynecologic cancer?

We’ll go into the individual risk factors for each type below. However, there are some general risk factors for all types of gynecologic cancer. These include most of the ones you already know and a few that may surprise you. The most likely risk factors of having a gynecologic cancer diagnosis include the following:

What are the risk factors of gynecologic cancer?
  • Aging
  • Gene makeup/predisposition
  • Having a previous cancer diagnosis
  • Using hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Obesity

Remember that having these risk factors doesn’t guarantee that you will have gynecologic cancer. It means that you are more at risk than someone who doesn’t have these risk factors. If you qualify, your GP and gynecologist will often prioritise your screening. The same goes for your yearly checks. These ensure that they are getting an accurate picture of your health profile as it changes year by year. This gets even more important as you age. Let’s move into the more specialised risk factors now.

Cervical cancer risk factors

The most likely risk factor for cervical cancer is having human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. This can occur without you even knowing it.

Risk factors for uterine cancer

For uterine cancer, there are quite a few risk factors. The biggest one is taking an estrogen supplement without a progesterone component. The birth control pill contains both, for example. Other risk factors include being overweight, having diabetes, and living with hypertension. The same goes for not giving birth and going through late menopause.

Ovarian cancer risk factors

Ovarian cancer has a similar risk factor to uterine cancer, which is not bearing children or being infertile. The other risk factor is having a family history (or personal history) of various cancers. These can include primary peritoneal cancer, premenopausal breast cancer, fallopian tube cancer, or ovarian cancer.

Is gynecologic cancer easy to diagnose?

The good news about gynecologic cancer is that the yearly tests cover basic testing for two main gynecologic cancer types. This can help bring peace of mind to many with a family history or many risk factors.

Gynecologic cancer is preventable, for the most part, through lifestyle preferences and vaccination. Prioritising yearly screening is essential to help detect and diagnose gynecologic cancer early. Many GPs push screening because early symptoms of gynecologic cancer are “nonspecific”.

Even if you go in for a yearly screening, you’ll still want to dedicate time and attention to further ovarian cancer testing. This will help round out your gynecologic cancer health profile. It will also give you the comfort of knowing that you are covering all your areas. If the results from this at-home test come back irregular, you can book an appointment with your GP or gynecologist. They will then pursue further testing to get a closer look at what’s happening.

There is never a bad time to change your health plan to protect yourself better. Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month is a themed opportunity to make the most out of learning about cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancer. From risk factors to screening, there is much to understand about this vital area of the body!

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