Screening for gynecological cancers involves the active searching for cancerous or pre-cancerous signs before a woman has any symptoms. It helps find cancer at a very early stage, when it is easier to treat it and eradicate it.
When your doctor recommends you for gynecological cancer screening, it is important to remember that it does not necessarily mean that you have cancer, as these screenings are requested when there are not symptoms.
In the event that your screening is returned with an abnormal result, then a series of diagnostic tests are needed in order to investigate further whether it is a cancer and its extent (its stage, for instance).
The cancers that affect the reproductive organs include cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar manifestations of the disease. Currently, out of all these cancers, only cervical cancer has an easy and proved screening method, either with a Pap test or liquid cytology.
The general practice for gynecological cancer screening, other than cervical, relies on careful observation of potential warning signs. A simple guide of what you can do to reduce risks of these cancers includes the following advice:
- Pay attention to changes in your body and know your physiology (what is normal) for you.
- If you notice changes in your vaginal secretions, or presence of blood at an unexpected time of a month, talk to your doctor immediately.
- Be aware of your family history. If you had a close relative with breast, colorectal or ovarian cancer, visit your doctor and ask for regular routine checks. A genetic analysis for cancer risk will be also recommended in this case, as there is a common genetic link between breast, colorectal, ovarian and endometrial cancers.