The description of Reduce Gynecologic Cancer Risk
You may dread your regular gynecological exam, but it's the only screening test for cervical cancer. Unfortunately, there aren't tests for other gynecologic cancers (like vulvar, vaginal, ovarian, fallopian tube, and uterine). This makes it even more important to know your risk for these cancers and work with your doctor to reduce your risk factors.
Consulting With Your Doctor
Get regular gynecological exams. The Pap test or pap smear tests for cervical cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV) test checks for changes in cells that could cause cancer. During a Pap test, the doctor will place a special tool (speculum) inside your vagina to swab for cells. This is sent to a lab for examination. If you're menstruating, have had sex (or used contraceptive jellies or foams), or douched, wait at least two days before getting the Pap smear. Follow the Centers for Disease Control's recommended Pap schedule: Women over 21 should get a Pap test and HPV screening once every three years if the results are normal. Women over 30 should get a Pap and HPV test once every five years if the results are normal. Women under age 65 should continue getting Pap tests until age 65 or until getting a total-hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions.
Get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
HPV is a group of viruses that are directly connected to cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancer. To make the vaccine more effective, it is usually given as a series of three shots to girls starting at the age of 9 and boys starting at the ages of 11 or 12. If you haven't already gotten it at an early age, the HPV vaccine is recommended for: Girls and women between the ages of 13 and 26 Boys and men between the ages of 13 to 21 Men who have sex with men through age 26 Men with compromised immune systems through age 26
Talk with your doctor about your diet
If you're overweight or obese and don't get much physical activity, you could be at a higher risk for uterine cancer. Try to lose weight by eating a healthy diet and becoming physically active. Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian to create a personalized diet. Avoid processed foods, eat more vegetables and fruits, and choose lean protein sources. Your doctor or dietitian may recommend reducing your intake of animal fat, which appears to increase the risk of gynecological cancers.
Consult with your physician about quitting smoking
Smoking is associated with cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers. If you're struggling to quit or even cut back, talk with your doctor, who can recommend support groups or cessation aids. You can use nicotine replacement therapies (like patches or gums) or smoking cessation medications, which may help smokers quit.
Get hormone treatments.
If you're taking an estrogen therapy alone, you may actually increase your risk for uterine cancer (if you have a uterus). But, if you take estrogen plus progesterone together as a hormone replacement therapy, you can reduce that cancer risk, though this may increase your risk for breast cancer. You can also reduce your uterine or breast cancer risk by taking oral contraceptives that contain these hormones. Progesterone treatment can be used to treat uterine cancer in some situations.
Consider getting genetic testing
Talk with your female family members about their medical histories, especially close relatives like your mother, sisters, aunts and grandmothers. Some cancers are linked to gene mutations. If a close family member has a cancer caused by a gene mutation (like ovarian or breast cancers), you might benefit from genetic testing and counseling. When you talk with your family about their medical histories, find out how old they were when cancers were diagnosed. Remember to get information from both sides of your family.
Recognizing Your Risk Factors
Consider your risk for cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is more common in women over 30 and is commonly caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).