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.