Gynecologic cancer | Cervical cancer

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 What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

 Cathy B., Ontario, Canada: For months I thought I was battling an infection of sorts. I would see those ads for the over the counter remedies for yeast infections and think I should buy one! The discharge I had was brownish and had a very pungent odor. This came and went. Occasionally, I felt a little 'shooting' charge or pain across my groin, but nothing significant. No bleeding or pain otherwise.

 Katie, California, USA: I experienced post-coital bleeding as well as bleeding between periods. I was forty-eight when this occurred and I attributed the symptoms to approaching menopause. My mother had similar symptoms when she began menopause at age fifty-two, and so I didn't even consider cancer at first. When the bleeding became heavier, I went to the doctor. Knowing what I know now, I would recommend that any woman with these symptoms see their gynecologist as soon as possible. It probably won't be cancer, but if it is, the earlier it is caught, the greater the chance for cure.

 Karen, Alberta, Canada: I had absolutely no symptoms at all. My cervical cancer was caught early from regular Pap smears.

 What should I do if I experience a symptom of cervical cancer?

 Karen, Alberta, Canada: Make an appointment with your doctor! Usually the first thing they will want to do is a pelvic exam and a Pap smear, however, even if the Pap smear is normal, if you are having symptoms, your doctor should recommend another procedure - a diagnostic one, not a screening test like a Pap smear - to investigate the symptoms. Some of the diagnostic tests that might be done are: a colposcopy and punch biopsies, a D & C (dilation and curettage), or a cone biopsy.

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 What is the difference between in-situ and invasive cancer?

 Karen, Alberta, Canada: Carcinoma or adenocarcinoma "in situ", pronounced "in sy-too" (from Latin, meaning "in place"), refers to a pre-cancerous condition. The cells are abnormal, but they are confined to where they belong; they haven't begun to invade other areas. When abnormal cells from the surface of the cervix (the epithelium) grow through the membrane separating the surface from the deeper tissues of the cervix, then it is considered an invasive cancer. Here is a good explanation of "carcinoma-in-situ".

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