Identifying A Silent Killer – Gynecologic Cancer

Organization: Author:
Kristine Penner, M.D., Medical Director, Gynecologic Oncology Program, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center

It is estimated that there will be more than 91,000 new cases of gynecologic cancer diagnosed in the U.S. this year alone - resulting in a predicted 28,000 deaths. Some gynecologic cancers are called “silent killers” because women are often unaware of the signs and symptoms and don’t catch them until it’s too late.

What is Gynecologic Cancer?
Gynecologic cancer is an uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells that originate from the reproductive organs. There are several types of gynecologic cancers, which include cervical, endometrial, fallopian, ovarian, peritoneal, uterine, vaginal and vulvar.

What are Some Symptoms of Gynecologic Cancers?
Some of the symptoms of gynecologic cancers include:

  • Extreme, sudden onset bloating
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, not associated with menstruation
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain

Be Proactive: Know Your Body
Although many of the symptoms associated with gynecologic cancers may seem common and often times are due to other causes, it’s important to be in tune with your body and pay attention to any changes. If you notice new symptoms that are occurring almost daily for more than a few weeks this can be a sign of a gynecologic cancer. Do not hesitate - you should seek medical attention immediately.

Pap tests are very effective in prevention and early detection of certain gynecologic cancers. Regular pap tests help screen for the human papillomavirus. HPV is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer and some vaginal and vulvar cancers. If possible, get your pre-teen vaccinated against HPV so that the number of women diagnosed each year is lowered.

Comprehensive Care
The MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center offers advanced diagnostic technology and individualized treatment plans. Long Beach Medical Center’s gynecologic oncologists are internationally recognized for their work in minimally invasive and robotic-assisted surgical techniques. In addition to advanced treatments, the care teams offer supportive care to treat your mind, body and spirit.

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