My experience so far has been a little hairy. The worst part of my journey has been getting my tests approved by my insurance company and getting those appointments set. The waiting is a nail biter!
I can’t stress to you how important it is to be on top of our regular check ups… asking questions and understanding the answers… and always KNOWING what is the next step(s). We can not let fear of the unknown keep us from visiting our doctors each year NOR let our busy lives keep putting our own health on the back seat of our priority list.
The following is a guest post on the various forms of female cancers. It is an informative piece and hope you find some answers to many of your questions. I will continue to share my journey in hopes it will give others strength to take that first step to make an appointment with their Doctors.
My guest writer is:
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writeradrienne
What All Women NEED to Know About Female Cancers
by Adrienne Santos-Longhurst
In this day and age of cancer awareness campaigns and information on just about everything just a
click away, it’s surprising to find out how many women still don’t know much about female cancers.
Knowledge is power and when it comes to cancer, what you know can save your life. So, to help spread
the power, here are some surprising facts that you need to know about female cancers.
Pap Tests Cannot Detect Ovarian Cancer or Most Uterine Cancers
The amount of women who think that a Pap test is used to check for ovarian cancer is astounding and
dangerous. A pap test removes a sample of cells from your cervix to check for changes in the cervix,
including precancerous changes, and cervical cancer. It may also help to diagnose conditions of the
vagina. That’s it. It cannot detect ovarian cancer and can only detect very few cases of uterine cancer
depending on which part of the uterus is affected. What can help to detect ovarian cancer is the pelvic
exam that is often performed during the same appointment as a pap test. This entails the doctor
pressing and feeling the abdomen and checking the inside of your vagina with the fingers to look for any
swelling that could be due to a growth or enlargement of the ovaries. Along with a physical pelvic exam,
other tests that can help diagnose ovarian and uterine cancer are ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, and PET
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms Are Often Blown off until it’s too late
A lot of the time ovarian cancer is diagnosed when it’s reached in the later stages because early ovarian
cancer is often asymptomatic and the symptoms it can cause are often blown off because they’re similar
to those caused by less serious conditions. Knowing the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer could
save your life. They include:
• Abdominal bloating
• Feeling full quickly after eating little food
• Pelvic or abdominal pain
• Needing to urinate often of feeling like you have to go right away
• Back pain
• Pain during sex
• Unexplained weight loss
• Changes in your period
Since most of these can be caused by other conditions, the American Cancer Society recommends
seeing a doctor about any of these symptoms if they last more than a couple of weeks.
80 Percent of Sexually Active Women Have HPV
Certain strains of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)—16 and 18—are responsible for most cases of cervical
cancer. You can get HPV from all kinds of sex, including oral and anal sex, not just vaginal and often
times there are no symptoms at all. Though precancerous changes, called dysplasia, and cervical cancer
are the most common, HPV can also cause cancer of the vagina, vulva, anus, penis, and throat.
Pap tests, as discussed, can find abnormalities of the cervix before they become cancerous. Practicing
safe sex and having regular screening can prevent cervical cancer. Getting the HPV vaccine could also
prevent HPV-related cancer—as many as 21,000 cases according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), who recommends all boys and girls aged 11 or 12 get vaccinated. The vaccine is also
recommended for men up to the age of 21 and women up to 26.
Women aged 30 and over can have an HPV test to help screen for cervical cancer along with a Pap test.
All Changes in Bleeding Down There Should Be Examined
Whenever a woman experiences unusual vaginal bleeding, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor about
it. Unusual bleeding can refer to any changes in your period or bleeding after menopause, such as:
• Heavier or irregular periods
• Spotting between periods
• Bleeding during or after sex
• Bleeding after menopause
Are You High Risk?
Some women are at a higher risk of reproductive cancers than others. Along with women who have a
family history of ovarian or breast cancer, the following also increases your risk:
• Multiple sex partners increases your risk of cervical cancer
• Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) increases your risk of uterine cancers
• Certain medications, such as Tamoxifen increases the risk of uterine cancers
• Obesity (a BMI of 30 or higher increases ovarian cancer risk)
• Age – ovarian and uterine cancer risk increases as we age
The more you know about cancer and your risk, the better. Learn about your family history and don’t
be afraid to speak up and talk to a doctor about your sexual history, “embarrassing symptoms”, or any
concerns. It could save your life.
• Pap Test. Canadian Cancer Society. Retrieved on April 17, 2014, from http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-
• Ovarian Cancer Overview. (February 2014). American Cancer Society. Retrieved on April 17, 2014, from
• Genital HPV Infection – Fact Sheet. (March 2014). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Retrieved on April 17, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm
• Uterine Cancer Overview. Canadian Cancer Society. Retrieved on April 17, 2014, from http://