(NAPSI) - Learning the warning signs for gynecologic cancer could save your life - even if you don't think you are at risk.
Most healthy women under 40 might not think they are at risk. In 1992, thirty-nine-year-old gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Kathy Look thought the same until it happened to her.
After experiencing irregular bleeding, Dr. Look went to her gynecologist for an exam. She recognized that abnormal bleeding can be a sign of a gynecologic cancer. When her Pap test results indicated that she might have a pre-cancer, her doctor immediately insisted on performing some additional tests, including a colposcopy and an endocervical biopsy. It was only after getting the results of her endocervical biopsy that Dr. Look received the news that she had Stage III endometrial cancer.
Other than abnormal bleeding, she had none of the typical warning signs-she was not over the age of 40, had no family history of the disease, and never had any previous related health issues-so how could this be possible?
Dr. Look was lucky she noticed unusual symptoms. She also was fortunate that her doctor insisted on performing additional tests, and once the cancer was diagnosed, referred her to a gynecologic oncologist, a specialist in women's cancers.
Shortly after her initial diagnosis, Dr. Look had a hysterectomy, including removal of her lymph nodes and ovaries. She also had a series of radiation treatments. Since endometrial cancer is a serious diagnosis, Dr. Look knew the importance of proper treatment and care.
"It is important for any woman-regardless of her cancer type-to feel comfortable with her treatment options and, in the case of gynecologic cancer, to seek care from a specialist," said Dr. Look. "Because of our special training, gynecologic oncologists can pinpoint the nature of the cancer with great accuracy and model the treatment accordingly. This improves outcomes for patients."
Dr. Look was able to return to work part-time during her treatment and, almost 12 years later, is completely healthy. She went back to her practice full-time less than a year after her diagnosis.
Following her personal experience with a gynecologic cancer, Dr. Look recommends that all women take the following steps:Educate yourself-know the signs of gynecologic cancers.
Trust your instincts-if you think something is wrong, see a doctor right away.
Find a doctor you can trust and that you can talk to. See a gynecologic oncologist if you suspect or are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer.
Insist on receiving the proper testing-talk to your doctor about what tests you may need to correctly identify any gynecologic problems; if the tests do not seem to explain the symptoms or their severity, ask about additional testing.
If you are diagnosed with cancer, talk to your doctor about your options and seek trusted sources of information.
More than 80,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer-ovarian, uterine, cervical, vulvar, vaginal or tubal-and nearly 26,000 die from these cancers each year. This incidence rate is due, in part, to women being diagnosed too late.
For more information, visit the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation's (GCF's) Web site at www.thegcf.org, log onto the Women's Cancer Network at www.wcn.org to take a free, confidential risk assessment test, or call GCF's toll-free information/referral hotline at 1-800-444-4441.