Gynecological Cancer Your Questions Answered

Robert Squatrito, MD, FACOG

Robert Squatrito, MD, FACOG

As some of you may know January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month. In order to help shed some light on cervical cancer and other gynecological cancers, we interviewed Dr. Robert Squatrito of the Bon Secours Gynecologic Oncology Program for his answers to some of the most frequently asked gynecological cancer questions.

Robert Squatrito, MD, FACOG, is one of the top gynecological cancer surgeons in the mid-Atlantic and performs surgeries at Bon Secours DePaul. Gynecologic cancer is any cancer that starts in a woman’s reproductive organs, and Dr. Squatrito answers some of the most common questions women have.

Are there specific risk factors for women’s cancers?
Yes, there can be. With endometrial cancer, women who are morbidly obese (100 pounds over your ideal body weight or a body mass index above 40) have a risk that is increased 15 times over the normal population. In ovarian cancer, family history can play a role in 5-10 percent of patients. Human papilloma virus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection, is a significant risk factor for many cancers.

What can a woman do to decrease her risk of gynecological cancers?
As with most things, staying fit and eating right are important. But one of the most significant breakthroughs in medicine has been the HPV vaccine. If young women ages 8–26, not previously exposed to HPV, are vaccinated, cervical cancer should be gone by the next generation.

What are the symptoms of various gynecological cancers?
Ninety five percent of the time, patients with endometrial cancer, who are beyond menopause, come to us with bleeding. Symptoms of cervical cancer can include bleeding or pelvic pain. With ovarian cancer, the symptoms are much more subtle – the patient may experience bloating or discomfort.

When do women need to see a gynecological cancer specialist?
Right away. If you have a suspected cancer, such as a mass or growth in your ovary, it’s important to go to a surgeon who sees these cancers on a regular basis. If a patient comes directly to our practice for evaluation, we can often prevent them from needing a second surgery to remove the tumor.

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3 thoughts on “Gynecological Cancer Your Questions Answered

  1. cheri swanson

    I am 37 years of age with a history of cervical displasia, class 3, and a carsenoma found on my vagina at age 18, which was fine after getting removed. I had my uterus removed at twenty five due to very painful periods and bleeding that would last for two and a half weeks a month. Still have my ovaries. I have always had a lot of ovarian cysts that usually have disappeared and/or ruptured within a couple of months. I have had so many that I know when one is there without question. Few have brought me problems unless they got to big or ruptured.

    Four months ago, I went to a walk-in clinic because I was in pain with one. It was complex and very small, I have just dealt with it until three weeks ago. I had an ultrasound one month ago and it was still 2.1 cm. And the pain was minimal. The next week (three weeks ago now), the pain increased to the point I could not sleep, and I was in so much pain I found it very painful to walk. I looked four months pregnant. My insurance came through and – went to a gynecologist two days ago.

    It is 5.4cm now and has been diagnosed septated and complex. Because I only went to the ER and a walk-in clinic, because of insurance reasons, the doctor wants to watch it for a month. Better way of saying, she wants me to come back in one month and see what is going on with it. That’s all!

    I have suffered long enough, and I feel I am being punished for my husband losing his job. These can be cancer, and my pain is an 8 on the 1 to 10 scale. I want the mass out. Am I overreacting? Also,my right ovary is lying on top of my left one. Is this all normal in a woman and nothing of concern?

    A “wait and see” seems a bit worthless. If this was going away, I feel it would have already. I know my body, and this does not feel right at all! Do I have any rights to my own body to get this mass out? Cancer of course cannot be ruled out and that is a huge worry. 🙁

    1. BSHR Post author


      Thank you for your comment. We are so sorry to hear that you are struggling with this painful condition.

      If your physician has recommended a “wait and see” period, but you are continuing to suffer or questioning this recommendation, you can and should seek out a second opinion. You may want to consider making an appointment with a gynecologic specialist.

      If you live in or around Hampton Roads, Virginia (Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, or Virginia Beach) our CARE line (757) 889-CARE (2273) can help put you in touch with a qualified physician specialist. If you don’t live in the area, you may want to start by calling your local hospital system and asking for a referral to a nearby physician who can help you.

      We certainly hope that you start getting some answers soon, so you can begin the road to recovery.

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