Gynecologists encourage women to get regular gynecologic cancer screenings

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month
Published: Sep. 3, 2022 at 10:37 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Gynecologists encourage women to receive regular gynecologic cancer screenings.

Each year in the United States, nearly 90,000 women are diagnosed with gynecological cancers, and over 29,000 die from them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“You should start having pap smears at the age of 21,” said Dr. Evon Schexnaydra, an obstetrician-gynecologist for Aspirus Health.

Dr. Schexnaydre said women age 21 and older should get checked annually for a pelvic exam.

“And then we do pap smears every 3 years after that,” said Dr. Schexnaydre.

The OB/GYN said these tests are crucial to preventing and detecting gynecological cancers, or cancers that start in a woman’s reproductive organs.

“They are the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina. Anything in the female pelvis,” said Dr. Schexnaydre.

She said there are warning signs women can look for to detect gynecological cancers.

“Vaginal bleeding, pelvic pressure, changes in bowel habits, pain with intercourse, bleeding after intercourse,” said Dr. Schexnaydre.

The goal is to educate women about the warning signs and the importance of early detection.

“Usually women who are post-menopausal are at higher risks for GYN cancers,” said Dr. Schexnaydre.

Dr. Schexnaydre said there are some preventative measures women can take to avoid getting gynecological cancer. One of them is to live a healthy lifestyle.

“So you don’t want to smoke. You want to try and modify your diet. You want to try to have a healthy diet,” Dr. Schexnaydre.

She also said maintaining a healthy weight and exercising can help to reduce the risk of cancers.

“You want to cut out things that are unhealthy. Things that have a lot of chemicals in them,” said Dr. Schexnaydre.

Dr. Schexnaydre said if your family has a history of GYN cancers, you can get checked to see if you are predisposed to a certain type of cancer.

“So if you’re a carrier, then we can tell you over your lifespan you should have done,” said Dr. Schexnaydre.