5 Ways to Reduce your Risk of Developing Gynecologic Cancers
Gynecologic cancers are cancers of the female reproductive organs. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 113,520 new cases of gynecologic cancer will be diagnosed this year. Gynecologic cancers and pre-cancerous conditions include, but are not limited to:
- Cervical Cancer
- Uterine Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Vulvar cancer
- Abnormal Pap smears.
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Vulvar irritations, or lesions
- Vaginal and gestational trophoblastic disease
- Ovary, fallopian tube, or pelvic masses
Did you know that lifestyle, age, nutrition, and genetics all play a role in the development of gynecologic cancers? While you can’t change your age or genetics, there are several ways you can actively work to help reduce your risk, including the adoption of healthy habits and lifestyle choices.
1. Schedule regular screenings and stick to them
Pap tests, also known as pap smears, work to detect pre-cancerous cells on the cervix, that if left untreated, could develop into cancers. Pap tests are recommended for all women beginning at 21 or once you become sexually active. The frequency between tests is different for each person, talk with your OBGYN or primary care provider about what’s right for you.
2. Receive the HPV Vaccine
There’s an estimated 14 million new infections of HPV (human papillomavirus) in the united states each year. HPV is linked to many cancers, but most often causes cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancers. The HPV vaccine is recommended for teens to young adults, and doses vary based on age. To learn more about the HPV vaccine, talk to your primary care provider.
3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Staying active, eating mindfully, and getting enough sleep help the body maintain a healthy weight. An increased body weight elevates the level of estrogen your body produces, leading to an increased risk of gynecologic cancers. For healthy lifestyle resources, information, and support for obesity, connect with our metabolism center team here.
4. Stop Smoking
Smoking negatively impacts the organs of your body, including your reproductive system. Even if you’ve smoked for a long period of time, stopping reduces your risk of developing cancer. Talk to your primary care provider about resources or strategies to help you stop smoking for good.
5. Understand your family history
You can’t change genetics and family history, but it’s important to understand your risk factors and openly communicate those concerns to your primary care provider and specialists. Genetic counseling is available at Billings Clinic, learn more here.
If you have a female reproductive cancer or if pre-cancerous conditions are present, you will want to see a specialist. Billings Clinic Cancer Center has the only board-certified gynecologic oncologists in Montana and Wyoming. Additionally, our gynecologic cancer specialists provide surgical and clinical outreach services in Great Falls, Missoula, Helena, Williston, and Bozeman.
To learn more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our gynecologic oncologists, visit billingsclinic.com/gynonc or call 406-435-7340.