JENNIE: Preventing and treating gynecologic cancers


AUGUSTA, Ga.– We begin today with a subject that is really important for women, because all of us are at risk for gynecologic cancers, and that risk increases with age. When gynecologic cancers are found early, treatment is most effective.

When we say gynecologic cancers we’re talking about cervical cancer, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancers. Each one is unique, with different signs and symptoms, different risk factors, and different prevention strategies.

Most cervical cancers are caused by a virus… but it is preventable. One way is by having yearly pap smears, the other, by using an effective vaccine. Pap smear screening can catch precancerous changes.

Vaccines are highly effective in preventing persistent infections with hpv types.

Dr. Sharad Ghamande is Chief of the Section of Gynecologic Oncology at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

“And I see cervical cancer sometimes not in early stages but in advanced stage 4 with people who come with disease outside the pelvis, the bowel or lungs. And that’s a tragedy because it’s truly a preventable disease it should not happen in this day and age. Every hour there’s a woman in the US who gets diagnosed with cervical cancer and every 2 hours a woman dies of cervical cancer.”

He says the vaccines today are remarkable.

“It’s amazing, I mean when I was in medical school, if somebody would have told me there was gonna be a vaccine that could prevent cancer, I would not have believed it, but over the last few years there’s been an explosion of not one or two, but 3 good vaccines which are incredibly safe and very effective, in fact if you compare the efficacy and safety of these vaccines for prevention of cervical cancer is stunning.”

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