Cervical cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cysts, ovarian cancer, endometriosis and myomas… Specialists keep pointing out the importance of routine check-ups and tests by saying “Early diagnosis saves lives”. However, most of us ignore their vitally important recommendations due to fear or negligence. In reality, early diagnosis and treatment ensure for even terminal diseases such as cervical, uterine and ovarian cancers to be remedied and provides an opportunity to prevent cervical cancer types which can be detected via screening before they develop.
1. Have regular gynecological examinations
Regular examinations have two very important advantages. The first of these is the opportunity to identify a disease which has not progressed too much or shown any indications and to start treatment right away. The second advantage is the ability to prevent possible diseases before they develop by intervening in habits which are bad for health, as well as present risk factors.
What do the examinations involve?
The examinations involve screening for conditions that can be treated with medications, such as infections and menstrual irregularities, as well as conditions that require surgery, such as ovarian cysts, myomas and uterine prolapse. They also involve screening for diagnosis of diseases that may be life-threatening, such as cervical cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer.
When should women undergo these examinations?
Modern medicine recommends for girls to undergo the first of their regular gynecological examinations between the ages of 13 and 15. Adults are required to undergo gynecological examinations and ultrasound scans every year.
2. Get screening tests for cervical cancer
Around 500.000 women throughout the world develop cervical cancer, for which Human Papilloma Virus is assumed to be responsible. What is worse is that 250.000 of these women lose their lives due to late diagnosis. Cervical cancer, which is the second most common gynecologic cancer, develops in 1500 women per year in Turkey. In reality, the Pap test, which is recommended to be had every year on a regular basis, ensures for cervical cancer to be detected during the pre-cancerous period in which only cell changes are present. Scientists from USA, who started research in order to prevent the disease, developed a new screening procedure which is referred to as “light scanning”. This procedure yields results without requiring any pathologic analyses.
What does the screening involve?
The screening tests have two objectives. The first of these is to detect suspicious cell changes which can be cancer precursors. The second is to diagnosis cervical cancer, if present, at an early stage. The Pap test, which is performed for screening purposes, involves collection of a sample of cells from the cervix with a special brush. The sample is then sent for pathological analysis and the results are acquired in 2 to 7 days. “Light scanning” method, on the other hand involves determination of whether there is a problem in the cervix with 1 or 2 minutes after the patient is laid on a table and her cervix is scanned with a device that emits light. The results, which may indicate low, moderate or high risk, appear on the screen connected to the device. This ensures for the information on whether the test results yield suspicious indications or not to be acquired instantly. Results that show suspicious indications lead to biopsy on the cervix for diagnosis purposes.
When should women undergo screening?
Women should start getting screening tests 1 year after their firs sexual intercourse or at the age of 21 and get these tests done every 1 to 3 years. The tests are necessary until the age of 70. Pap tests should be performed during periods in which there is no vaginal bleeding or discharge and preferable 2 or 3 days after sexual intercourse of use of a vaginally applied medications.
3. Consult a doctor right away in the event that you have the following symptoms
In addition to routine annual gynecological examinations, women are recommended to get a gynecological examination right away when there are symptoms that may be indicative of diseases. While not every complaint means that a disease has developed, the presence of certain symptoms requires gynecological examination as soon as possible. Do not neglect to consult a doctor without wasting time if you have any of the following symptoms.
- Discharge, pelvic pain, pain and a burning sensation during sexual intercourse can be indicative of gynecologic infections.
- Painful menstruation and pain during sexual intercourse may be symptoms of endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue that is supposed to be inside the uterus is located outside of it.
- Heavy bleeding during menstruation, enlargement of the uterus as for it to become palpable and pelvic pain may be symptoms of benign masses in the uterus, which are referred to as myomas.
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse and vaginal discharge with bad odors may be indicative of cervical cancer.
- Postmenopausal bleeding can indicate uterine cancer.
- Swelling and palpable masses in the abdomen can be symptoms of ovarian cancer.