Cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancers
Causes and Symptoms (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Although people commonly talk about cancer as a single disease, it actually includes more than one hundred different diseases. These diseases do appear to have a common element to them. All cancer cells divide without obeying the normal control mechanisms. These abnormal cells have altered deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that causes them to divide and form other abnormal cells, which again divide and eventually form a neoplasm, or tumor.
If the neoplasm has the potential to leave its original site and invade other tissues, it is called malignant. If the tumor stays in one place, it is benign. One major difference between these tumors is that malignant cells seem to have lost the cellular glue that holds them to one another. Therefore, they can metastasize, leaving the tumor and infiltrating nearby tissues. Metastatic cells can also travel to distant sites via the blood or lymph systems.
Medical scientists do not know exactly what causes a cell to become cancerous. In fact, it is likely that several different factors in some combination cause cancer. Genetic, viral, hormonal, immunological, toxic, and physical factors may all play a role. Whatever the cause, cancer is a common disease, resulting in one out of five deaths in the United States. Tumors of the reproductive tract occur in relatively high rates in women. Cervical cancer accounts for 6 percent, ovarian cancer 5 percent, and cancer of the lining of the uterus...
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Treatment and Therapy (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
A variety of treatments are available for patients with cancers of the reproductive tract: surgical removal of the organ, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
The treatment of cervical cancer depends on the size and location of the tumor and whether the cells are benign or malignant. If the patient is no longer capable of or interested in childbearing, then she may choose to have her uterus, including the cervix, removed in the procedure known as hysterectomy. The physician may also use a laser, cryotherapy (use of a cold instrument), or electrocautery (use of a hot instrument) to destroy the tumor without removing the uterus. Malignant tumors may require a total hysterectomy and removal of associated lymph nodes, which can trap metastatic cells. This surgery may be followed by radiation or chemotherapy if there is a possibility that all cancer cells have not been removed.
Cervical cancer diagnosed in a pregnant patient can complicate the treatment. Fortunately, only about 1 percent of cervical cancers are found in pregnant women. If the cancer is restricted to the cervix (that is, it has not metastasized), treatment is usually delayed until after childbirth. It is interesting to note that a normal vaginal delivery may occur without harming the mother or the infant. Malignant cervical cancer must be treated in a similar way as in nonpregnant women. If the cancer is found in the first trimester, a...
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Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Even though medical science has advanced the ability to detect and treat cancers much earlier, many lives are still lost to cancer each year. Therefore, as with most diseases, prevention may be a significant way to reduce one’s chances of getting cancer, as well as of reducing the effects of cancer itself.
The National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society have made several suggestions which can be followed to reduce the risk of cancer. The dietary guidelines include reducing fat intake to less than 30 percent of total calories, eating more high-fiber foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals, and eating more fruits and vegetables in general, and in particular those high in vitamins A, C, and E.
Scheduling regular checkups with a health care provider may increase the likelihood of detecting cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancers early, even if no symptoms are present. Pelvic examinations should be performed every three years for women under the age of forty and yearly thereafter. Pap testing for cervical cancer should be undertaken yearly from the time that a woman becomes sexually active. Some physicians will take an endometrial tissue biopsy from women at high risk and at the time of the menopause.
Some data suggest that modifying lifestyle may help reduce the incidence of cervical cancer. The cervix is exposed to a variety of factors during intercourse, including infections and...
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For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
American Cancer Society (ACS). http://www.cancer .org. Web site is divided into sections for patients, family, and friends; survivors; health information seekers; ACS supporters; and professionals. Information on all cancers is wide ranging.
Eyre, Harmon J., Dianne Partie Lange, and Lois B. Morris. Informed Decisions: The Complete Book of Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment, and Recovery. 2d ed. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, 2002. This text is intended for general readers. It is exemplary in its discussion of cancer.
Kerr, Shelly K., and Robin M. Mathy. Preventive Health Measures for Lesbian and Bisexual Women. New York: Haworth Medical Press, 2006. Addresses the health care issues of lesbian and bisexual women, including cancer screening and prevention. Also focuses on the discrimination, oppression, and stigmatization often faced by lesbian and bisexual women in seeking health care.
Leikin, Jerrold B., and Martin S. Lipsky, eds. American Medical Association Complete Medical Encyclopedia. New York: Random House Reference, 2003. This encyclopedia lists, in alphabetical order, medical terms, diseases, and medical procedures. It does an excellent job of explaining the different types of cancers and their treatments.
McGinn, Kerry Anne, and Pamela J. Haylock. Women’s Cancers: How to Prevent Them, How to Treat Them, How to Beat Them. Alameda, Calif.: Hunter House,...
(The entire section is 397 words.)