Cancers that affect women

Cancer is a debilitating condition that stems from genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle practices. Other times, it is completely a game of fate. Whereas cancer plagues both, men and women, but their type varies due to the anatomical differences in both genders.

Certain cancers therefore are specific to women only. In some cases, women have greater propensity towards developing the cancer. Having knowledge about these cancers is imperative for all women so that they are aware of the symptoms and their risks. Timely intervention prevents cancers from spreading to the rest of the body, thereby increasing the survival probability. 

Cancers exclusive to women:

Also termed as gynecological cancers, these are the cancers that are exclusive to women due to their reproductive system. 

Cervical Cancer 

Cancer of the cervix is amongst the preventable cancers. It is generally caused by long term exposure to Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.  The symptoms presented in this disease are generic like vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain and thus can catch the patient unaware. Therefore, regular checkup is important. Sexually active women especially need to get regular checkups done from their Gynecologist in Lahore

Risk factors for cervical cancer include use of oral contraceptives for a long time, bearing too many children, being immunocompromised due to immunosuppressing drugs, having too many sexual partners and being sexually active from a young age. 

Ovarian cancer 

Cancer of the ovaries is harder to diagnose to due to the lack of comprehensive screening and palpable symptoms in the early stage. It however is more common in older women and those with family history of ovarian, breast and non-polyposis colorectal cancer.

Women who have children at older age or who don’t have children altogether are also more likely to suffer from ovarian cancer. Obese women and those who have undergone hormone replacement therapy also have greater risk of the disease. 

Advanced symptoms of ovarian cancer include pelvic pain, frequent urination, change in appetite, lump in the pelvis. 

Uterine Cancer 

Also known as endometrial cancer, Uterine cancer is most common gynecological cancer. The risk factors of this cancer include estrogen-based hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills, frequent period-cycles, not having birthed children, obesity, diabetes and history of cancer. 

Older women are also more susceptible to getting uterine cancer. The most common symptom of uterine cancer is abnormal bleeding i.e., bleeding that is not part of the menstrual cycle or bleeding after menopause. Pain in abdomen and frequent urination are other symptoms of the uterine cancer. 

Vaginal Cancer 

Affecting the vaginal region, this cancer is common amongst older women and those suffering from HPV infection. Symptoms of this cancer include vaginal bleeding, painful sexual intercourse, lump in vagina, constipation and pain in the abdomen. 

Vulvar Cancer 

Cancer of the vulva is a rarer form of cancer. It commonly strikes women who have HPV infection. Other risk factors of vulvar cancer include old age, too many sexual partners, being sexually active from an early age. History of genital warts and abnormal pap smears also increase probability of getting the cancer.  

Symptoms of this cancer include wart like lumps in the vulva, perpetual itching, abnormal bleeding and pain in the vulvar region. 

Breast Cancer

Although not exclusive to women, breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women. It is more common in women with family and personal history of breast cancer, have undergone hormone replacement therapy, have had early periods and late menopause, have children at older. 

Moreover, lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking, poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity also increase the probability of developing this condition. Regular screenings can help in the timely diagnosis of the disease. Mammography is especially vital for those with disease history. 

Symptoms of breast cancer include lump in the breast or around under arms, pain in the breast, changes in the nipple or discharge from nipples.

What should women be doing?

While you cannot beat genetics or change your environment, you can nonetheless take step to minimize the risk of cancer. Be careful about your lifestyle choice; quit smoking and drinking. Make healthy food choices and exercise. 

Moreover, wear sunscreen and stop using tanning beds etc. as sun light and the artificial sources of tanning contain ultraviolet rays that cause cancer. As obese and overweight people are also at higher risk of the disease, it is vital to shed off the extra weight.

Most importantly, get regular screenings done. Visit your gynecologist in Karachi for tests like pap smear and pelvic exams that aid in the early diagnosis of cancer. 

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