Pine Belt medical professionals stress importance of gynecological cancer awareness
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The National Cancer Institute reports more than 106,000 women in the United States receive a gynecological cancer diagnosis each year, and around 32,000 will die from the disease.
Pine Belt medical professionals say that knowing the signs and symptoms of gynecological cancers is extremely important for early detection and intervention. Dr. John S. “Bo” Hrom from Hattiesburg Clinic Hematology/Oncology says it could mean the difference between life and death. He says this is especially true for ovarian cancer, which is known as a silent killer.
“Cervical cancer can definitely be caught very early,” said Hrom. “I cannot stress the importance of that. Women are typically in their early 30s, 40s when they are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and many of those can be prevented if women get their pap smears at a young age.”
Treatments for gynecological cancers vary depending on the diagnosis and how far the cancer has progressed. However, Dr. Jennifer Bailey with Hattiesburg Clinic Obstetrics and Gynecology said that several different treatment methods are now available thanks to medical advancements.
“Some of those treatment options would be surgical, where the cancer is just removed, or some of those treatments could include chemotherapy or radiation therapy,” she said.
Hrom added that there are steps you can take as you age to help prevent a cancer diagnosis.
“For instance, cervical cancer, the importance of the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer in the future,” he explained. “As far as ovarian cancer, unfortunately, we don’t have any screening tests for that, and as far as uterine cancer, (when) women have vaginal bleeding, they need to go see their physician immediately.”
As you make your annual visit to the gynecologist, it’s recommended to discuss lifestyle choices with your doctor and then work on steps toward prevention.
“Most cancers are not genetic, but some are, so knowing your family history is really important,” said Bailey. “You should discuss that with your doctor, and your doctor will go over your risk factors with you at your appointment and can do a physical exam for screening.”
Bailey recommends women start visiting a gynecologist for yearly checkups and pap smears at the age of 21.
As Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month wraps up, remember to keep a close eye on your health and make sure you take preventative measures to avoid a potentially fatal cancer diagnosis.
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