Learn, Listen And Act To Prevent Gynecologic Cancers
September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month (GCAM). The gynecologic oncologists at Wake Forest Baptist Health would like to share this year’s GCAM theme with you: LEARN, LISTEN and ACT.
These three steps can ensure an early diagnosis of gynecologic cancers and improve the chances for a successful outcome. LEARN about the risk factors and symptoms of gynecologic cancers. LISTEN to your body for symptoms of these cancers, and ACT if you experience these symptoms by seeking medical care.
Uterine cancer is the most common type of gynecological cancer. Most uterine cancer comes from the inner lining of the uterus called the endometrium. Uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, usually occurs around the time of menopause. There is no screening test for it (the PAP test only screens for cervical cancer).
Women who experience bleeding after menopause or younger women with irregular or heavy vaginal bleeding should undergo an endometrial biopsy to check for cancer. If you have symptoms of endometrial cancer and receive a positive endometrial biopsy, seek care from a gynecologic oncologist.
Endometrial cancer is usually treated with surgery. At Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, gynecologic oncologists Steven Berliner, MD, and Michael Kelly, MD, perform this surgery through small “keyhole” incisions with a robot. The hospital stay is shorter and the recovery time is quicker with robotic surgery compared to traditional, open surgery. And, patients who undergo robotic surgery are typically back to work after two weeks. Not all patients with endometrial cancer are candidates for robotic surgery, but it is a good option for some.
Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death among gynecologic cancers. Only 15% of ovarian cancers are detected at the earliest, most curable stage. Women who experience bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or urinary frequency daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor.
Most likely these symptoms are not due to ovarian cancer. However, prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. And early-stage diagnosis is associated with an improved outcome in patients with ovarian cancer.
If ovarian cancer is suspected or diagnosed, seek care from a gynecologic oncologist. Samuel S. Lentz, MD, director of gynecologic oncology at Wake Forest Baptist, is a nationally recognized expert in the surgical and medical management of women with ovarian cancer.
Dr. Lentz and his colleagues in surgical oncology are performing a leading-edge treatment for ovarian cancer patients called heated intra-peritoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). Novel clinical trials are also available for women with ovarian cancer at the Wake Forest Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Our gynecologic oncology team is committed to empowering women to LEARN, LISTEN and ACT. Our team consists of Dr. Samuel Lentz, Dr. Steven Berliner, and Dr. Michael Kelly; nurse practitioners Sonya Galloway and Amy Hensley; registered nurses Brooke Burroughs and Melissa Swain; and patient care coordinators Cindy Bowman-Joyce and Vickie Davis.