Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer
Flatulence, abdominal pain, feeling full or full when eating, and spotting after menopause can be some early signs of gynecological cancer.
These signs are often ignored as minor inconveniences until they progress, said Dr. Stephanie Ricci, the newly appointed gynecological oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
Ricci, who treated cancer patients at the U.S. Cleveland Clinic for six years, says awareness of gynecological cancer is as low in the United Arab Emirates as it is among women in the United States.
“Women take some warning signs of cancer lightly and don’t make regular appointments with their gynecologist. Most of these cancers are more likely to be cured if discovered early, ”says Dr. Ricci.
She found that women need to pay attention to even the slightest change in their body or irregularities and see a doctor for a thorough examination.
Common gynecological cancer symptoms include pelvic pain or pressure, vaginal bleeding or discharge, genital itching or burning, increased urination, constipation or diarrhea, and postmenopausal bleeding or spotting.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer, while uterine cancer is the sixth and ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women worldwide. Family history, age, and obesity are important risk factors for gynecological cancer.
Dr. Ricci says she has treated many patients with advanced disease at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
“Women are not diagnosed early enough because they are referred to different doctors for their symptoms, which delays treatment,” she said.
“There are very few female gynecologic oncologists in the United Arab Emirates and such cancers can go undetected without the right multidisciplinary expertise. Another important factor that contributes to such an advanced disease is that women often no longer go to their gynecologist after having children. “
The expert added, “It is very important for women who have reached menopause to see a doctor if they bleed again. Patients believe that a little spotting after menopause is not a concern, but this is never normal and can be a sign of endometrial cancer that begins in the inner lining of the uterus. This cancer is curable if it is discovered at an early stage. Once metastasized, the recovery rate drops significantly. “
Ricci says an annual Pap smear exam, examining pelvic pain, gas, and abnormal menstruation, and scheduling a mammogram and colonoscopy based on medical history and age can all help reduce the risk of gynecological cancer.
“Your doctor may order more tests, including genetic testing, and recommend a treatment plan with proper diet and lifestyle changes to reduce or prevent the risk of cancer,” she said.
The expert says that the treatment of gynecological cancer has made significant strides over the past decade, with most procedures for removing tumors using minimally invasive techniques.
“Advances in not only the treatment but also the diagnosis of these cancers mean patients have better outcomes and faster recovery,” said Ricci.
“For patients with endometrial cancer, we can do a minimally invasive laparoscopic hysterectomy and sentinel lymph node mapping to see if the cancer has spread and they can go home the same day.
“The cuts are small and the operation is completed in less than two hours. Immunotherapy, in which we use a person’s own immune system to kill cancer cells, is also emerging as a viable treatment option for patients with ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancer, ”Ricci said.
Dr. Rucci recently joined the oncology team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi as the first female board certified gynecological oncologist.
Her experience and expertise is focused on diagnosing and treating cancers of the female reproductive system, including uterine, ovarian, vaginal, cervical and vulvar cancers.