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Common Gynecological Cancer in Women

Gynecological cancers are one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in women worldwide. Lakhs of women are diagnosed with gynecological cancers and hence, it is important to be aware of the various types of gynecological cancers.

What are the types of gynecologic cancers, and who’s at risk?

There are five major types:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Uterine (endometrial) cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar cancer

The following factors may increase your risk of developing gynecologic cancer:

Human papillomavirus (HPV): Cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers are often linked to HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection. For this reason, practicing safe sex (using a condom) is a key strategy for prevention. An HPV vaccine is available for girls and young women (between the ages of 11 and 26).

Age: Older age is another known risk factor. For example, the average patient with uterine cancer is 63 years old at diagnosis.

Genetics: Up to 10% of patients with ovarian cancer have a family history of the disease. A woman whose mother, daughter or sister had ovarian, Fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer might choose to undergo genetic testing for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. (Mutations in these genes can increase your risk for ovarian cancer.)

Uterine cancer

Uterine cancer is cancer that begins in the uterus and is one of the most common types of gynecological cancers. Though it can happen to anyone, some factors which increase the risk of uterine cancer are obesity, diabetes, hypertension, use of estrogen without progesterone, etc.

THE COMMON SYMPTOMS OF ENDOMETRIAL CANCER ARE:

  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting after menopause.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen that persists for more than two weeks.
  • Bleeding between periods.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.

Cervical cancer

A large number of women in India are diagnosed with this cancer every year, and unfortunately, due to lack of awareness and poor cancer screening facilities, a majority of women are diagnosed when cancer has reached advanced stages

SOME COMMON SYMPTOMS OF CERVICAL CANCER INCLUDE:

  • Vaginal discharge.
  • Vaginal odour.
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse.
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is another common gynecological cancer. There are three types of it: epithelial ovarian cancer, germ cell cancer, and stromal cell cancer. Of these, epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common one accounting for about 85 percent of all ovarian cancers.

SOME COMMON SYMPTOMS OF OVARIAN CANCER ARE:

  • Extreme and sudden onset of bloating.
  • Difficulty in eating or loss of appetite.
  • Increased frequency or urgency of urination.
  • Pain in the pelvic or abdominal region.
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What is tongue-tie?

Tongue-tie, also known as ankyloglossia, is a congenital condition (the child is born with it) in which a child’s tongue remains attached to the bottom (floor) of his or her mouth. This happens when the thin strip of tissue (lingual frenulum) connecting the tongue and the floor of the mouth is shorter than normal. The short frenulum can restrict tongue mobility. Ankyloglossia has been associated with difficulties with breastfeeding and problems with speech.

Tongue-tie mostly affects infants and younger children, but older children and adults may also live with the condition.

Symptoms

It’s often found because of problems breastfeeding. You may notice your baby:

  • Can’t latch well
  • Tends to chew more than suck
  • Doesn’t gain weight the way you’d expect
  • Feeds for a long time, takes a short break, then feeds for another long stretch
  • Is fussy when trying to feed
  • Makes a clicking sound while feeding
  • Seems hungry all the time

Along with symptoms, you may hurt during and after breastfeeding. You may also have sore or cracked nipples. But tongue-tie isn’t the only reason there may be breastfeeding problems. So if you’re having them, talk to your doctor.

You might also notice your baby’s tongue:

  • Can’t move far from side to side
  • Can’t reach the upper gums or roof of the mouth
  • Can’t stick out past the gums
  • Has a V shape or heart shape at its tip when it’s sticking out

When to see a doctor

See a doctor if:

  • Your baby has signs of tongue-tie that cause problems, such as having trouble breast-feeding
  • A speech-language pathologist thinks your child’s speech is affected by tongue-tie
  • Your older child complains of tongue problems that interfere with eating, speaking or reaching the back teeth
  • You’re bothered by your own symptoms of tongue-tie
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What is vaginitis?

Vaginitis is a medical term used to describe various disorders that cause infection or inflammation of the vagina.

These conditions can result from an infection caused by organisms such as bacteria, yeast, or viruses. Irritations from chemicals in creams, sprays, or even clothing that are in contact with this area can also result in vaginitis.

In some cases, vaginitis results from organisms that are passed between sexual partners, vaginal dryness and lack of estrogen.

Types of Vaginitis

Doctors refer to the various conditions that cause an infection or inflammation of the vagina as “vaginitis.” The most common kinds are:

  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Candida or “yeast” infections
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Reactions or allergies (non-infectious vaginitis)
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Viral vaginitis

Although they may have different symptoms, a diagnosis can be tricky even for an experienced doctor. Part of the problem is that you could have more than one at the same time.

Symptoms of Vaginitis

What are the symptoms of vaginitis?

The symptoms of vaginitis can vary depending on what is causing the infection or inflammation. Some women have no symptoms at all. Some of the more common symptoms of vaginitis include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • Burning feeling outside of the vagina during urination
  • Itching around the outside of the vagina
  • Discomfort during intercourse

How is vulvovaginitis treated?

The correct treatment for vulvovaginitis depends on the type of infection and the organism causing the problem.

 

It’s possible to treat some types of vulvovaginitis on your own. But be sure to speak with your doctor before initiating any treatment.

After your doctor identifies the type of organism causing your vaginitis, they’ll likely prescribe medication.

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Why Irregular Periods?

Every woman is different — including her periods. Some happen like clockwork. Others are hit or miss and unpredictable. On average, a woman gets her period every 24 to 38 days. A period usually lasts about 2 to 8 days. If your menstrual cycle is irregular from time to time, it’s probably no big deal.

Is your period irregular — and if so, does it need treatment?

What’s Irregular?

You may have irregular periods if:

  • The time between each period starts to change
  • You lose more or less blood during a period than usual
  • The number of days that your period lasts varies a lot

Causes

Many things can cause irregular periods. Changes in your body’s level of the hormones estrogen and progesterone can disrupt the normal pattern of your period. That’s why young girls going through puberty and women approaching menopause commonly have irregular periods.

Other common causes of irregular periods include:

  • Having an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Changing birth control pills or using certain medications
  • Too much exercise
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Stress
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Thickening of or polyps on the uterine lining
  • Uterine fibroids

Should I Worry About Irregular Periods?

Talk to your doctor if you have had sex and have missed a period because you could be pregnant. Also let the doctor know if:

  • You were having regular periods that then become irregular.
  • You stop getting your period.
  • You have extra hair growth on the face, chin, chest, or abdomen.
  • You start having periods that last longer than 7 days, are heavy, or are coming more often than every 21 days.
  • Your period comes less often than every 45 days.
  • You have severe cramping or abdominal pain.
  • You have bleeding in between your periods.
  • Your periods are irregular for 3 years or more.

The doctor may prescribe hormone pills or other medicines, or recommend lifestyle changes that can help you to have regular periods.

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Why Pap smear Test?

A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a screening procedure for cervical cancer. It tests for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on your cervix. The cervix is the opening of the uterus.

During the routine procedure, cells from your cervix are gently scraped away and examined for abnormal growth. The procedure is done at your doctor’s office. It may be mildly uncomfortable, but doesn’t usually cause any long-term pain

What Happens During the Test?

It’s done in your doctor’s office or clinic and takes about 10 to 20 minutes.

You’ll lie on a table with your feet placed firmly in stirrups. You’ll spread your legs, and your doctor will insert a metal or plastic tool (speculum) into your vagina. He’ll open it so that it widens the vaginal walls. This allows him to see your cervix. Your doctor will use a swab to take a sample of cells from your cervix. He’ll place them into a liquid substance in a small jar, and send them to a lab for review.

The Pap test doesn’t hurt, but you may feel a little pinch or a bit of pressure

Who needs a Pap smear?

Current guidelines recommend that women get regular Pap smears every three years starting at age 21. Some women may be at increased risk for cancer or infection. You may need more frequent tests.

How often do you need a Pap smear?

How often you need a Pap smear is determined by various factors, including your age and risk.

Age Pap smear frequency
<21 years old, none needed
21-29 every 3 years
30-65 every 3 years or an HPV test every 5 years or a Pap test and HPV test together every 5 years
65 and older you may no longer need Pap smear tests; talk to your doctor to determine your needs

These recommendations only apply to women who have a cervix. Women who have had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix and no history of cervical cancer do not need screening.

Recommendations vary and should be individualized for women with compromised immune systems or a history of precancerous, or cancerous lesions.

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What is postpartum care?

Caring for a new baby while feeling sore, tired and stressed can be a lot to handle. Taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for your baby. Learn how you can stay healthy as your body heals and you adjust to your new life.

Postpartum care can be divided as

External care refers to the physical body such as dealing with the change in body shape, coping with breastfeeding problems like engorgement or sore nipples, caesarean incision or even hair loss issues.

Internal care refers to things like physical fatigue, body aches, afterbirth cramps, perinea pain or constipation problems.

Mental care refer to emotions such as anxiety, impatient, confidence level or low self-esteem due to hormonal changes that trigger us to be more sensitive during postpartum period

You need to take good care of yourself to rebuild your strength. You will need plenty of rest, good nutrition, and help during the first few weeks.

  1. Get plenty of rest.Get as much sleep as possible to cope with tiredness and fatigue. Your baby may wake up every two to three hours for feeding. To make sure you’re getting enough rest, sleep when your baby sleeps.
  2. Seek help.Don’t hesitate to accept help from family and friends during the postpartum period, as well as after this period. Your body needs to heal, and practical help around the home can help you get much-needed rest. Friends or family can prepare meals, run errands, or help care for other children in the home.
  3. Eat healthy meals.Maintain a healthy diet to promote healing. Increase your intake of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein. You should also increase your fluid intake, especially if you are breast-feeding.
  4. Exercise.Your doctor will let you know when it’s OK to exercise. The activity should not be strenuous. Try taking a walk near your house. The change of scenery is refreshing and can increase your energy level.

Things to Remember

  • Eat confinement food. Avoid cooling stuff such as cold drinks, fruits. Consume warming food like hot soups, hot non-caffeine drinks, stews or even some tonic wine.
  • Do not diet. Have regular three meals with some snack breaks throughout the day
  • Have ample rest. Catch up on short naps throughout the day
  • Leave the house chores to your partner or helper and do not move around too much
  • Have a postnatal massage for relaxation, reduce stress and also to ease the body aches
  • Maintain proper hygiene especially on your caesarean incision or episiotomy. Take a quick hot bath once a day.
  • Do not be shy to ask for help. Many new mums want to be a super mum but it is ok if you cannot cope everything fully. You should enjoy motherhood not to let stress takes over
  • Have some personal time, Read a book or listen to some music.
  • Try not to go out of the house too often or unnecessary to allow the body to recover faster
  • Talk to other mums. You gain more knowledge and also make new friends
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What Is Menopause?

Menopause is the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles. The term can describe any of the changes you go through just before or after you stop having your period, marking the end of your reproductive years.

Menopause Causes

A woman is born with all of her eggs, which are stored in her ovaries. Her ovaries also make the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which control her period (menstruation) and the release of eggs (ovulation). Menopause happens when the ovaries no longer release an egg every month and menstruation stops.

Menopause is a regular part of aging when it happens after the age of 40. But some women can go through menopause early. It can be the result of surgery, like if their ovaries are removed in a hysterectomy, or damage to their ovaries, such as from chemotherapy. If it happens before age 40, for any reason, it’s called premature menopause.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

Every woman’s menopause experience is unique. Symptoms are usually more severe when menopause occurs suddenly or over a shorter period of time.

Conditions that impact the health of the ovary, like cancer or hysterectomy, or certain lifestyle choices, like smoking, tend to increase the severity and duration of symptoms.

Aside from menstruation changes, the symptoms of perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause are generally the same. The most common early signs of perimenopause are:

  • less frequent menstruation
  • heavier or lighter periods than you normally experience
  • vasomotor symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing
  • An estimated 75 percent of women experience hot flashes with menopause.

Other common symptoms of menopause include:

  • insomnia
  • vaginal dryness
  • weight gain
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • difficulty concentrating
  • memory problems
  • reduced libido, or sex drive
  • dry skin, mouth, and eyes
  • increased urination
  • sore or tender breasts
  • headaches
  • racing heart
  • urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • reduced muscle mass
  • painful or stiff joints
  • reduced bone mass
  • less full breasts
  • hair thinning or loss
  • increased hair growth on other areas of the body, such as the face, neck, chest, and upper back

Complications

Common complications of menopause include:

  • vulvovaginal atrophy
  • dyspareunia, or painful intercourse
  • slower metabolic function
  • osteoporosis, or weaker bones with reduced mass and strength
  • mood or sudden emotional changes
  • cataracts
  • periodontal disease
  • urinary incontinence
  • heart or blood vessel disease

What Happens During Menopause?

During perimenopause, menstrual periods become irregular. Your periods may be late, or you may completely skip one or more periods. Menstrual flow may also become heavier or lighter.

Menopause is defined as a lack of menstruation for one full year.

Postmenopause refers to the years after menopause has occurred.

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What is Indigestion?

Indigestion — also called dyspepsia or an upset stomach — is a general term that describes discomfort in your upper abdomen. Indigestion is not a disease, but rather some symptoms you experience, including abdominal pain and a feeling of fullness soon after you start eating. Although indigestion is common, each person may experience indigestion in a slightly different way. Symptoms of indigestion may be felt occasionally or as often as daily.

Indigestion can be a symptom of another digestive disease. Indigestion that isn’t caused by an underlying disease may be eased with lifestyle changes and medication.

Indigestion can cause:

  • stomach pain or bloating
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Other common symptoms of include:

  • feeling full during a meal and not being able to finish eating
  • feeling very full after eating a normal-sized meal
  • burning sensation in the stomach or esophagus
  • gnawing sensation in the stomach
  • experiencing excessive gas or belching

Don’t’ ignore severe symptoms of indigestion. See your doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • severe vomiting
  • vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds
  • unexplained weight loss
  • black stools
  • trouble swallowing

Causes of Indigestion

Indigestion has many possible causes. Often, indigestion is related to lifestyle and may be triggered by food, drink or medication. Common causes of indigestion include:

  • Overeating or eating too quickly
  • Fatty, greasy or spicy foods
  • Too much caffeine, alcohol, chocolate or carbonated beverages
  • Smoking
  • Anxiety
  • Certain antibiotics, pain relievers and iron supplements

Sometimes indigestion is caused by other digestive conditions, including:

  • Inflammation of the stomach (gastritis)
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Celiac disease
  • Gallstones
  • Constipation
  • Pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis)
  • Stomach cancer
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Reduced blood flow in the intestine (intestinal ischemia)

Complications

Although indigestion doesn’t usually have serious complications, it can affect your quality of life by making you feel uncomfortable and causing you to eat less. You might miss work or school because of your symptoms. When indigestion is caused by an underlying condition, that condition can also have its own complications.

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What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the large intestine (colon). The colon is the final part of the digestive tract.

Colon cancer typically affects older adults, though it can happen at any age. It usually begins as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon. Over time some of these polyps can become colon cancers.

Stage 1 colorectal cancer is the earliest stage. The stages progress up to stage 4, which is the most advanced stage. Here are the stages of colorectal cancer:

  • Stage 1. The cancer has penetrated the lining, or mucosa, of the colon or rectum but hasn’t spread to the organ walls.
  • Stage 2. The cancer has spread to the walls of the colon or rectum but hasn’t affected the lymph nodes or nearby tissues yet.
  • Stage 3. The cancer has moved to the lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body yet. Usually, one to three lymph nodes are involved at this stage.
  • Stage 4. The cancer has spread to other distant organs, such as the liver or lungs.

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer may not present any symptoms, especially in the early stages. If you do experience symptoms during the early stages, they may include:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • changes in stool color
  • changes in stool shape, such as narrowed stool
  • blood in the stool
  • bleeding from the rectum
  • excessive gas
  • abdominal cramps
  • abdominal pain

If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss getting a colon cancer screening.

Lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of colon cancer

You can take steps to reduce your risk of colon cancer by making changes in your everyday life. Take steps to:

  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which may play a role in cancer prevention. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables so that you get an array of vitamins and nutrients.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.
  • Stop smoking. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit that may work for you.
  • Exercise most days of the week. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly and build up gradually to 30 minutes. Also, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you are at a healthy weight, work to maintain your weight by combining a healthy diet with daily exercise. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy ways to achieve your goal. Aim to lose weight slowly by increasing the amount of exercise you get and reducing the number of calories you eat.
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