Mar 08, 2022
Cancer screening tests can help save millions of lives as early detection, in many cases, is crucial for the proper treatment of the disease. Some of the most common cancers in women include those of the breast, lung, cervical, etc. Knowing about the symptoms of these cancers in women, preventive measures that can be taken, and regular screening are essential for their treatment.
When a doctor recommends cancer screening, it does not imply that the doctor suspects the person to have cancer. In fact, screening is performed as a preventive measure to check if the person has any risk factors associated with cancer. Timely cancer screening has more potential benefits as any complication, if present, can be caught in the early stages. There are several types of cancer screening tests that are vital for women and each cancer screening test is performed based on certain factors like age, genetics, family history, lifestyle, or exposure to tobacco or smoke. Here are 5 of the most common cancers found in women and the screening tests that are recommended for them:
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in India and across the world. It can occur in women of any age but as a woman grows older, their risk of getting breast cancer increases. There are several factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer in women, such as family history, age, genetics, dense breast tissue, early onset of menstruation, having received radiation treatment for the chest, dietary issues, etc. A mammogram is a cancer screening test that is recommended by doctors to detect breast cancer in women. It is a type of X-ray test that is performed to detect cancerous lumps in the breast even when they are quite small and have not spread to the rest of the body.
All women over the age of 40 years should get mammograms performed yearly. How often they should be repeated or if they need to be started earlier depends on the woman’s risk factors, and they should consult a doctor regarding the schedule they should follow for this cancer screening test.
Colorectal Cancer is another type of cancer in women, the risks of which increase with age. Factors that increase the risk include being overweight, lack of physical activities, family history, heavy drinking, smoking, excessive consumption of red meat, etc. To detect the early signs of colorectal cancer in women, a colonoscopy is the primary test that is recommended to detect any abnormal growth of tissues in the colon. Through a colonoscopy, any abnormal tissues, if found, can be removed easily to reduce the risks of further complications.
Cervical cancer in women starts in the lower part of the uterus. The risk factors of cervical cancer include certain types of chronic HPV infections, smoking, a weak immune system, chlamydia, certain hormone treatments, etc., and the common symptoms of cervical cancer in women include unusual menstrual bleeding, vaginal discharge, unusual vaginal pain, etc. A pap smear test is a cervical cancer screening test is performed to check for abnormalities in the cervix by taking a tissue sample. Women in the reproductive stage should be very cautious about abnormalities in their cervix and must consult their doctor for regular screening for signs of cervical cancer.
This type of cancer in women can occur at any age but is more likely to affect older women, women with a family history of ovarian cancer, or those already suffering from breast cancer. The symptoms of ovarian cancer in women include lower abdominal pain, unusual bleeding from the vagina, abnormal periods, unusual back pain that worsen over time, loss of appetite, etc., but tend to occur in the later stages of the disease. In terms of cancer screening tests, a pelvic exam should always be a part of regular health checks, and tests like an ultrasound, biopsy, etc. may further be suggested if the doctor suspects ovarian cancer.
The occurrence of this type of cancer in the female population is also quite common and occurs in the lining of the uterus. The risk factors for endometrial cancer include early onset of menstruation, late menopause, taking estrogen after menopause, family history of infertility, late/no pregnancy, etc. Instead of screening tests, one must be on the lookout for warning signs of uterine cancer in women, which include heavy menstruation, vaginal bleeding after menopause, blood-tinged vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, vaginal pain, etc. If a woman shows such symptoms, a transvaginal ultrasound or endometrial biopsy might be recommended by the doctor for the detection or ruling out of uterine cancer.
Consult your doctor to discuss the risk factors associated with the common types of cancer that affect the female population. Doing that will help you to devise the right schedule for periodic health checkups that include regular cancer screening tests as well. Many types of cancers in the female population are easier to treat if they can be detected in their early stages.