There is a prevalence of cancer in the US in all forms. Cancers that require a visit to a gynecologic oncologist affect many women every year. Great strides have been made in the treatment options, but early detection is of critical importance. Malignancies are diagnosed in stages. A Stage I diagnosis that has not spread to any other part of the body is much easier to resolve medically than one that has metastasized.
Many women hear about the symptoms of various forms of gynecological cancers and fear being told they have it so much that they will not seek treatment until symptoms become unbearable. The five major gynecological cancers are vulvar, vaginal, cervical, uterine and ovarian. They are listed in order of anatomy and not prevalence. In times past, when information may have been scarce, one could have used the excuse of not knowing. With good information to be had at professional medical sites on the Internet, a woman can now take a look at what her symptoms may mean.
Using Internet information should not lead to either the extreme of passing off the symptoms as minor or being convinced that one is terminal and therefore there is no need to see a doctor. Use Internet information to be able to engage in a more productive dialog with one’s primary physician and gynecologist. Discuss whether specific screenings should be done because of the symptoms. Become educated on the issue.
A gynecologic oncologist has had more extensive training than a standard gynecologist to specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers that occur in women. More than one opinion is important in diagnosis. A gynecologic oncologist can contribute much to diagnosing the health problems specific to women and may need be consulted to rule out any malignancies.
For example, consider a hypothetical situation. A patient may have presented to several gynecologists over a number of years for menstrual bleeding that lasted, at one point, for 31 days straight. This patient had debilitating menstrual pain. She would miss work and be bedridden with cramping. She was placed on iron supplements for anemia. Finally, a gynecologist found some abnormal endometrial cells and she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. For patients like this one there are options. They are referred to a gynecologic oncologist to resolve cancerous problems. Each case is treated individually and resolved in different ways. When patients suspect a problem, they should bring it to the attention of their gynecologist immediately. This may result in a referral to a specialist. Seek the advice of a physician trained in oncology.
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