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Female Reproductive Cancers

Published by Dr. Jennifer Nardella

There are various types of ovarian, cervical and uterine tumors: sarcomas, adenocarcinomas, clear cell adenocarcinomas and more. Cervical and endometrial cancers are more easily detected in comparison to ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is known as the “cancer that whispers” because the symptoms are easily pushed aside as being other conditions. The cause of ovarian cancer is unknown.

There are many risk factors for female reproductive cancers. The family history of any reproductive cancer can increase the chances of getting that particular cancer or any of the other reproductive cancers, as well. Women with BRCA gene mutations have a 40% increase of ovarian cancer in their lifetime. Prior use of hormone replacement therapy, family history or personal history of Lynch Syndrome (HNPCC), high estrogen exposure or exposure to unopposed estrogen can increase the chance of developing female reproductive cancers. Previously diagnosed human papilloma virus (HPV), unprotected sexual activity, smoking and oral contraceptive use can significantly increase the risk of cervical cancer. Reproductive History, menstrual history, diabetes and infertility should be included in investigation for developing female reproductive cancers.

Screening for female reproductive cancers at the Nardella Clinic in Calgary include pap tests, HPV test, transvaginal ultrasound, colposcopy and curettage. The tumor markers CA 125 and CA 15-3 are not specific to a single cancer, but can be used to determine tumor burden on the body and to guide treatment. An important fact to note is that PAP tests do NOT detect ovarian cancer!

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