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Gynaecological Cancers Every Woman Should Keep an Eye Out For

Dr. Rahul Verma 691 Views
Updated: 19 Jan 2024
Published: 27 Jan 2023
common cancers that effect women

Is Cancer Common in Women?

Cancer is synonymous with menace to women. Going by statistics, it comes second only to heart disease in killing most women around the world. Its high frequency of causing deaths becomes evident from the fact that 25 out of 100 individuals die due to it in the United States. And the majority of them are women.

Beyond a doubt, skin cancer is the commonest form of cancer that affects most women. However, breast cancer isn’t too far behind it. Discussing or thinking about cancer can be difficult for most female individuals. But knowledge is power. Knowing about cancer is imperative for women as, to a large extent, it can help them prevent the possibility of developing it at the later stages.

Read on to learn more about the types of cancer you should be aware of as a woman. Also, find out the risk factors linked with them and the ways to detect them.

Some Common Cancers that Affect Most Women

Cancers can be of different types. Women are more vulnerable to them than their male counterparts. Some common cancers that affect most women include the following:

Along with American women, these cancers also affect women around the world. As is evident from most studies on cancer, early detection of cancer helps in its successful treatment.

Breast Cancer, Its Risk Factors, Symptoms & Diagnosis

Breast cancer is the abnormal growth of breast cells. After its onset, it spreads to the lymph nodes at the subsequent stages. The risk factors for this form of cancer include the following:

  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Obesity
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Non-pregnancy
  • Not breastfeeding
  • Utilization of contraceptives or birth control pills
  • Post-menopause hormone therapy

BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes have a central role in causing breast cancer. Both these genes run through genetics and families. Therefore, you must go through a thorough brca gene check-up if one or more members of your family have a history of mutation of breast cells due to these genes. You must do it, irrespective of your gender.

The signs and symptoms of breast cancer include the following:

  • A lump in the breast
  • Changes in the nipple
  • Dimple in the breast (orange peel)
  • Inflammation in the breast
  • An underarm lump
  • Inward nipple retraction
  • Nipple discharge (bloody discharge)
  • Thick and itchy skin on the breast with a reddish or scaly appearance

In most cases, women develop breast cancer due to BRCA mutations. Some of them may also develop this form of cancer due to environmental factors and radiation or chemicals.

As far as the diagnosis of breast cancer is concerned, your best bet is to go for an annual screening.

Ovarian Cancer, Its Risk Factors, Symptoms & Diagnosis

Ovarian cancer results due to the abnormal growth of ovary cells or the cells of the fallopian tubes. The formation of tumours in these organs due to the abnormal growth of cells marks the beginning of ovarian cancer.

The risk factors for this form of cancer include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Endometriosis
  • Diabetes
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Family history of ovarian, bowel, cervical, uterine, and breast cancer
  • Smoking

While there is no definite screening for ovarian cancer, those who have BRCA mutations are at risk of developing it. You can consult a genetic counsellor for genetic testing.

The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer include the following:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Menstrual changes
  • Difficulty in eating
  • Constipation
  • Urgent bowel movements and urination
  • Menstrual changes
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Unexplained weight loss

Ovarian cancer generally begins with the development of tumours in the fallopian tubes or ovaries. Carcinoma can be of different types.

With that being said, ovarian cancer can be difficult to detect. It is imperative to observe its early signs and see a gynaecologist to have them examined. Your doctor may recommend the following tests for the diagnosis of ovarian cancer:

Cervical Cancer, Its Risk Factors & Diagnosis

The abnormal growth of the cells of the cervix triggers cervical cancer. Its risk factors include the following:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Smoking
  • Abnormal pap smear
  • HIV/AIDS infection
  • Intercourse with multiple sex partners
  • Giving birth to three or more babies

Except for vaginal discharge or bleeding, there are no major signs and symptoms of cervical cancer. Sometimes healthy cervical cells undergo some DNA alterations. It is the primary reason for cervical cancer. An early HPV screening or pap test can help with the early detection of cervical cancer.

Skin Cancer, Its Risk Factors & Diagnosis

Skin cancer is the commonest form of cancer observed in most women. It primarily occurs due to the unusual growth of skin cells due to their exposure to the Sun. Malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma are the three common types of skin cancer.

risk factors of skin cancer

The risk factors of skin cancer are the following:

  • Exposure to the Sun
  • Presence of moles in large numbers
  • Red/blonde hair
  • Blue/green eyes
  • Light skin

The common signs and symptoms of skin cancer include the following:

  • Skin changes
  • Bigger-sized mole
  • Non-healing sore
  • Crusty red spot

Any damage to the top part of the skin marks the initial phase of skin cancer. Normally, damage to the DNA of these cells spirals out of control which constitutes the main reason for skin cancer.

One of the best ways to detect skin cancer is to perform skin checks at home. When performing these tests, it is imperative to cover all the parts of the body. The key parts that you need to cover to have the best results from the test are the parts between the toes and fingers, the underarms, the buttocks, the belly button, and the scalp. You must consult a dermatologist upon detecting any abnormal change or alteration.

Lung Cancer, Colorectal Cancer & Uterine Cancer: Risk Factors & Diagnosis

Lungs are the two spongy organs that facilitate the body in breathing oxygen and inhaling carbon dioxide out of the body. Lung cancer affects many women and occurs in the alveoli, bronchioles, and bronchia. Its common symptoms include the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing that lasts for a longer duration
  • Sharp pain in the chest
  • Bloody mucous

Lung cancer primarily occurs due to smoking which leads to abnormal growth of cells in the lungs. If you smoke, a low-dose CT scan can help you detect lung cancer in the initial stages.

Colorectal cancer affects the rectum, the large intestines, and the small intestines. Its risk factors include the following:

  • Age (above 50 years)
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Chronic inflammatory intestinal disease
  • Obesity
  • A high-fat and low-fibre diet
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Sedentary lifestyle

This form of cancer can affect the colon, the rectum, and the large intestine. Depending on the part of the body affected due to the abnormal growth of cells, it may be called colon/rectal/colorectal cancer.

The common symptoms of this form of cancer include the following:

  • Diarrhoea/constipation or change in the stools
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal cramps/pain
  • Weakness/fatigue not related to your lifestyle
  • Weight loss without any valid reason
  • More bowel movements than usual

Colorectal cancer begins with the unusual or abnormal growth of cells in the colon or rectal region. If not treated in time, it develops into colon cancer. To diagnose this form of cancer, the following tests may be necessary:

Uterine cancer is cancer along the lining of the uterus. Its risk factors include the following:

  • Family history
  • Diabetes
  • Medications
  • Hormone replacement
  • Obesity

Its symptoms include the following:

Uterine cancer occurs due to the abnormal growth of cells along the lining of the uterus. These cells grow and outnumber healthy cells. Regular screenings will help you detect it early on. It is imperative to speak to your doctor whenever you experience abnormalities in the uterus. Your doctor may recommend an endometrial biopsy.

Takeaway

If you are a female individual, you may be vulnerable to different kinds of cancers as discussed above. Precise information about them is the only thing that can help you prevent it early on. Proper diagnosis coupled with the right guidance from your doctor can help you treat all these kinds of cancer.

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