Archive for the ‘Ovarian cancer’ Category

Expert Panel Says Healthy Women Don’t Need Yearly Pelvic Exam

July 7, 2014

The annual pelvic exam often dreaded by women may be antiquated and now unnecessary.
Ask any woman about getting a pelvic exam and they will tell you that it is uncomfortable, embarrassing, and seldom yields any results that impact a woman’s healthcare. Now a recent report by the American College of Physicians suggests that the annual pelvic exam is unnecessary.

For decades, doctors have believed this exam may detect problems like ovarian cancer or a bacterial infection even if a woman had no symptoms. And sometimes it does. But recently experts have questioned whether the yearly ritual adds value to a woman’s health.

In the new guidelines, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, an expert panel appointed by the American College of Physicians recommends that healthy, low-risk women not have routine annual pelvic exams. The panel based this advice on a systematic review of prior studies. They not only found no benefit from the annual pelvic exam, they found that it often causes discomfort and distress. Sometimes it also leads to surgery that is not needed.

The new guidelines only apply to the pelvic exam, and only in healthy women. The panel urged women to keep getting checked for cervical cancer. Also, the experts emphasized that pelvic exams remain a necessary part of the evaluation in any woman with symptoms that could be related to a problem with the vagina, cervix, uterus, Fallopian tubes, or ovaries.

A test women do need
Although seemingly healthy women may not need a pelvic exam every years, being tested regularly for cervical cancer can save a woman’s life. Here are the recommendations for women at average risk of cervical cancer:
• ages 21 to 29: a Pap smear once every 3 years.
• ages 30 to 65: a Pap smear every 3 years or a combination of a Pap smear and HPV test every 5 years.
• over age 65: routine Pap screening not needed if recent tests have been normal.
Keep in mind that these are guidelines. For personal reasons, you and your doctor may wish to choose HPV testing first or have more frequent Pap smears than recommended.
If during a routine appointment your doctor wants to perform a pelvic exam, and you aren’t keen on the idea, feel free to ask why you need it and what he or she is looking for. That’s not a challenge. Based on current evidence, there should be a reason for doing a routine pelvic exam.

Bottom Line: The annual pelvic exam should be a shared decision between doctor and patient. It is reasonable for women to ask their doctor whether a routine pelvic exam is necessary, and to ask for more information on the possible benefits and risks of the examination.

Cancer Prevention For Women-Listen To Your Body

February 23, 2012

Your body may be the best detective for discovering cancer This blog will provide tenant signs and symptoms that may help you discover cancer in the early stages when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Breast changes
If you feel a lump in your breast, you shouldn’t ignore it even if your mammogram is normal. If your nipple develops scaling and flaking, that could indicate a disease of the nipple, which is associated with underlying cancer in nearly 95% of cases. Also any milky or bloody discharge should also be checked out.

Irregular menstrual bleeding
Any postmenopausal bleeding is a warning sign. Spotting outside of your normal menstrual cycle or heavier periods should be investigated.

Rectal bleeding
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in women. One of the hallmarks is rectal bleeding. Your doctor will likely order a colonscopy.

Vaginal discharge
A foul or smelly vaginal discharge could be a sign of cervical cancer. And examination is necessary to determine if the discharge is due to an infection or something more serious.

Bloating
Ovarian cancer is the #1 killer of all reproductive organ cancers. The 4 most frequent signs of ovarian cancer are bloating, feeling that you’re getting full earlier than you typically would when eating, changing bowel or bladder habits such as urinating more frequently, and low back or pelvic pain. You can expect a pelvic exam, transvaginal sonogram, and perhaps a CA-125 blood test to check for cancerous cells.

Unexplained weight gain or loss
Weight gain can occur with accumulation of fluid in the abdomen from ovarian cancer. Unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be the first sign of cancer. Weight loss in women can also be due to an overactive thyroid gland.

Persistence cough
Any cough that lasts 2 or 3 weeks and is not due to an allergy or upper respiratory infection or a cough that has blood in the sputum needs to be checked. Also, smoking is the number one cancer killer in women.

Change in lymph nodes
If you feel lymph nodes in your neck or under your arm, you should be seen by your doctor. Swollen, firm lymph nodes are often the result of an infection. However, lymphoma or lung, breast, head or neck cancer that has spread can also show up as an enlarged lymph node.

Fatigue
Extreme tiredness that does not get better with rest should warrant an appointment with your doctor. Leukemia, colon, or stomach cancer-which can cause blood loss-can result in fatigue.

Skin Changes
Any sores irritated skin the vaginal area, or a non-healing vulvar lesion can be a sign of vulvar cancer.
Bottom Line: If you notice something different about your body, get it checked out. Most likely it’s not cancer, but if it is, cancer is treatable and often curable.