DCH Corner – Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, a national recognition established by the Foundation for Women’s Cancer in 1999. It is estimated that 98,000 women will be diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer this year. There are five main types of gynecologic cancer: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar.

Cervical cancer symptoms include abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding, bleeding after vaginal sex, vaginal odor, and pelvic or abdominal pain. Any of these signs should be checked out by a gynecologist.

Ovarian cancer is difficult to screen for, but you should see a gynecologist if you experience any of these symptoms for more than a few weeks: bloating, urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency), pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating, or feeling full quickly.

Endometrial cancer, also known as uterine cancer, is the most common gynecologic cancer. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight is one way to lower your risk of endometrial cancer. See a gynecologist if you experience unusual vaginal bleeding, spotting, or discharge. At menopause, all women are strongly encouraged to report any vaginal bleeding, spotting, or discharge to their doctor.

Signs of vaginal cancer include unusual vaginal bleeding, bleeding after vaginal sex, pain, problems with urination or bowel movements, a watery discharge, or a lump or mass in the vagina. If you experience any of these symptoms, see a gynecologist. Vaginal cancer is associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18. The HPV vaccine can be used to prevent HPV infection. Routine wellness visits and cervical cancer screenings can sometimes find early invasive vaginal cancer.

Signs of vulvar cancer or pre-cancer include chronic itching, abnormal bleeding or discharge, skin color changes (lighter or darker, red or pink), and bumps or lumps with wartlike or raw surfaces. Any symptoms should be checked out by a gynecologist. While there is no standard screening for vulvar cancer, knowing what to look for can help with early detection. If you notice an area on the vulva that looks different than normal, a bump or lump (red, pink or white), thickening of the skin of the vulva, or an open sore, visit with your doctor.

Each week in the DCH Outpatient Clinic, Dr. Earle M. Pescatore, Jr., DO visits to provide gynecologic care to support women’s health in our community. Dr. Pescatore offers regular gynecologic care including: annual screenings, breast exams, cancer screenings, hormone replacement therapy, pap smears, pelvic exams, pelvic organ prolapse treatment, urinary incontinence treatment, well woman exams, and more.

Beginning in October, Dr. Pescatore will partner with our new full-time Occupational Therapist, Taylor Kohlwey, to offer pelvic floor rehab services to women in our community. Our pelvic floor rehab program may help with the following pelvic floor dysfunctions:

  • Urogynecological and orthopedic pain syndromes:
    • Difficulty with intimacy or insertion of devices used during menstrual cycle
    • Chronic pelvic pain
    • Vulvar pain
    • Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome
  • Urinary and voiding conditions such as:
    • Stress incontinence–loss of urine on physical exertion (cough, sneeze, laugh, sports)
    • Urge incontinence –loss of urine associated with urgency
    • Nocturnal enuresis: loss of urine during sleep
    • Coital incontinence: loss of urine during coitus

For exceptional women’s health care, close to home, call us at 641-446-2285 schedule an appointment in our DCH Outpatient Clinic. To learn more about Decatur County Hospital and our available services, follow us on Facebook and Instagram @DecaturCountyHospitalIowa, or on Twitter @dch_iowa.