As a leader in gynecology cancer care in Orlando, Florida Hospital Cancer Institute offers the latest and most effective screening methods and education about preventing certain types of gynecology cancer. Cancer screening tests are most effective when they are performed early on, affording an individual more time to catch the development of a cancer before it becomes unmanagable. One of the most common gynecologic cancers - cervical cancer - has a very specific screening called the Pap test. The Pap test not only helps to prevent cervical cancer, but also helps find precancers such as cell changes on the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer if not treated quickly and properly. Another test known as the HPV test helps your physician identify any HPV infections. These gynecology cancer screenings are recommended for women ages 30 and older.
Since many gynecology cancers are difficult to detect early on, it's important to be aware of the warning signs and learn how to reduce your risk of developing these cancers. Speak with our specialized gynecology doctors in Orlando to learn more. It could save your life. For more information about screenings for gynecology cancer and ways to prevent it, or to schedule an appointment, call (407) 303-1700 or click here to fill out an online assistance form.
Screening for Cervical Cancer
Florida Hospital Cancer Institute offers the latest and most effective screening for cervical cancer in Orlando. Even with an annual Pap smear test and the new vaccination for young women, cervical cancer can’t be totally prevented. But there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing cancer of the cervix.
1. Get a Pap smear. An annual checkup with periodic Pap tests is one of the best ways to defend yourself against cervical cancer, since the test can detect the presence of pre-cancerous cells before they turn into cancer.
The Gynecologic Oncology Center recommends the following for Pap tests:
- First Test: Young women should have their first Pap test within three years of their first sexual encounter or their 21st birthday, whichever comes first.
- Annual Tests: Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have an annual Pap smear.
- Biannual Tests: Women 30 to 69 should have a regular Pap test every two years or a liquid based test every three years, if they are considered "low risk". You'll need to discuss this with your doctor.
- Some groups advise that women who are 70 and older can usually stop having a Pap test if they’ve had three or more normal tests in a row and no abnormalities in the last 10 years. We still recommend pap smears every 3 years for low risk women older than 70 as this segment of the population represents the most rapidly growing group of cervical cancer patients in the U.S.
If you have an abnormal Pap smear, it’s important that you have a follow up exam to find out what is causing the abnormalities.
2. Commit yourself to abstinence. The best way to reduce your risk of cervical cancer is to abstain from having sex until you are in a committed relationship. This will not only decrease your exposure to virus such as HPV, but sexually transmitted diseases as well.
3. Limit the number of sexual partners. The more sexual partners you have, the greater risk you have of getting cervical cancer. The risks increase exponentially, particularly if your partner has had multiple partners as well. HPV, the virus that can lead to cervical cancer is transmitted through sexual contact.
4. Have protected sex. Use a condom to ensure that you are not placed at risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases that can increase the risk that you will develop cancer.
5. Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking can interact with the HPV infection to accelerate the development and spread of cervical cancer.
6. Get vaccinated. If you’re under the age of 27, you may be able to get the new HPV vaccine, Gardasil. This vaccine can prevent the most common high-risk strains of HPV in women. Since young men can also carry the HPV virus, the vaccine may be extended to them at some point to help prevent cross infection. As your doctor at the Gynecologic Oncology Center about this new vaccine.Back to Top
Latest Methods for Vaginal Cancer
While there is no way to prevent vaginal cancer yet, Florida Hospital Cancer Institute is at the forefront of clinical trials for vaginal cancer. However, there are promising new developments along this line, including the use of Gardasil, which protects against some forms of HPV and may decrease the chances you will get vaginal cancer once you are vaccinated.
Not becoming infected with HPV is another way to reduce the risk that you will get vaginal cancer. The best way to avoid the virus is to commit yourself to a lifestyle that includes abstinence. If this is not possible, delaying your first sexual experience, having as few sexual partners as possible and avoiding having sex with other people who have had multiple partners can reduce the chances you will become exposed to HPV. Quitting smoking will also reduce your risk of getting vaginal cancer.
The best way to prevent the spread of the disease is to have an annual pelvic exam and a Pap smear at the Gynecologic Oncology Center once you reach the age of 21 or have become sexually active, whichever occurs first.Back to Top
Preventing Vulvar Cancer
Florida Hospital Cancer Institute offers the latest and most effective screening for vulvar cancer in Orlando. One of the best ways to prevent vulvar cancer is to be aware of its symptoms and have an annual gynecologic exam with your gynecologist. When this form of cancer is detected early, cure is expected in most cases.
The best way to prevent vulvar cancer is to avoid sexual behaviors that put you most at risk, namely exposure to sexually transmitted diseases like HPV and HIV. This includes not having sex when you are young, not having multiple partners and not having sex with someone else who’s had multiple partners. While condoms may reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, they can’t fully protect against HPV. Obviously, abstinence is the surest way to reduce the risk of getting vulvar cancer. However, not all vulvar cancers are related to HPV or sexual exposure, especially in older women.
A vaccine that guards against some forms of HPV have proven effective in preventing vulvar cancer in addition to cervical and vaginal cancers. Currently, women under the age of 27 are encouraged to get this vaccine and its use with young men is also being studied.
Avoiding tobacco use can also reduce your risk of contracting vulvar cancer.Back to Top
Request an Appointment
For more information about screenings for gynecology cancer and ways to prevent it, or to schedule an appointment, call (407) 303-1700 or click here to fill out an online assistance form.Back to Top