Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women. Additionally, it is the second most common cause of death from cancer. However, colorectal cancer can be prevented. Furthermore, it is one of the most preventable cancers. For the best prevention, you should engage in healthy habits and get a colorectal cancer screening at least every 10 years.

Who needs to be screened for colon cancer?

Everyone should be screened for colon cancer at some point in their lives.

The average adult should begin screenings at age 50 unless you have a family history, inflammatory bowel disease or genetic disorder. In May 2018, the American Cancer Society recommended that everyone should begin screenings at age 45. However, most insurance companies do not cover colon cancer screening tests at this age yet. Furthermore, African Americans should begin screening at age 45. If you have a first-degree family member (mother, father, sister or brother) diagnosed at age 60 or younger, you should have your first colonoscopy 10 years prior to when they were diagnosed, or at age 40—whichever happens first.

For example, if you have a brother diagnosed with colon cancer at age 35, you should get screened at 25.

Colorectal cancer screening tests

Your primary care physician can order multiple options for screening tests.

  • Hemoccult or FIT stool tests detect microscopic blood (performed once per year).
  • Cologuard® stool tests detect DNA shed from polyps and cancers (performed every three years).
  • Virtual colonoscopy (performed every five years).
  • Sigmoidoscopy (performed every five years).

Colorectal cancer prevention

The best option for colorectal cancer screening and prevention is to have a colonoscopy performed by a gastroenterologist or surgeon every 10 years. Ask your Women’s Care Florida provider about colorectal cancer screening or contact Women’s Care Florida gastroenterologist, Dr. Donna Powell, at 813-392-1900.

Cervical Cancer and Pregnancy: Can You Get Pregnant?

Postmenopausal women tend to have the most diagnosed cervical cancer. Nonetheless, premenopausal women who want to conceive can also be diagnosed. Many women these days delay conception. Unfortunately, this can lead to cervical cancer before getting pregnant. Many treatments result in permanent infertility. However, options exist for cervical cancer and pregnancy. Some women who wish to preserve their fertility can still get pregnant.

Cervical cancer and pregnancy

The standard treatments for cervical cancer, a hysterectomy (simple or radical) and pelvic radiation, result in permanent sterility. Select patients with early-stage cancer could qualify for fertility-sparing options. These include radical fertility-sparing trachelectomy. Furthermore, the cervix is removed but the uterus is spared.

Radical trachelectomy

Approximately one-third of patients with cervical cancer may meet the criteria for this procedure. Due to the rarity of this procedure, many referring physicians do not know this procedure can be an option.

Radical trachelectomy candidates

Those who desire future fertility possibilities qualify. Otherwise, doctors prefer more conventional methods. Surgery can be more complicated when compared to a standard hysterectomy. Furthermore, a patient might have to meet with another gynecological oncologist. Not all of these specialists can perform fertility-sparing trachelectomies.

At a patient’s initial consultation, providers would obtain important information. This is to assess if it is an appropriate option. Some of these criteria include:

  • Tumor size
  • Any spread of disease on imaging
  • The type of cancer
  • Others depending on the patient

How is the procedure performed?

Several surgical options exist with a trachelectomy. These include vaginal or abdominal, and robotic or minimally invasive. In addition, most surgeons use either an incision on the belly or multiple smaller incisions. They also perform the surgery in a minimally invasive fashion. The surgery requires very careful dissection due to the steps involved. Furthermore, this keeps the uterus viable while eliminating cervical cancer. The general steps include:

  • The surgeon dissects the uterus while the blood supply remains intact.
  • They separate the cervix from the uterus.
  • A stitch known as the cerclage is placed around the uterus base to secure it for fertility.
  • The surgeon reconstructs the uterus to the top of the vagina.

Can you get pregnant after cervical cancer?

Yes. Pregnancy rates are very encouraging after a trachelectomy with close to 70 percent of women achieving pregnancy afterward. Some patients may require some reproductive assistance. For instance, they might need intrauterine insemination or in vitro. It is important to involve a reproductive specialty physician in these cases to offer guidance along the way. Also, patients will need to deliver via cesarean section because of the permanent cerclage placed at the base of the uterus to prevent premature delivery.

Dr. Jessica Stine is a gynecologic oncologist who is trained to perform trachelectomies on young women. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Stine by calling her office at 813-530-4950.

6 Steps for Breast Cancer Prevention

Other than choosing a comfortable bra with ample support, you probably don’t regularly think about how you can protect your breasts. Women’s Care Florida wants you to know that we have several steps you can take to help lower your odds of developing breast cancer. For women who live in the United States, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, aside from lung cancer. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. However, you can treat it better when you find it early on. Don’t let breast cancer affect your health and livelihood. Here are six breast cancer prevention tips that can help you lower your odds for developing breast cancer:

1. Reduce alcohol intake

Yes, alcohol and breast cancer are correlated. High alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. You may want to limit yourself to one drink per day. For the most effective breast cancer prevention, consider not drinking at all. Also, try swapping out high-calorie beverages for one glass of red wine. Some studies have found correlations between red wine and positive health benefits for your heart. However, note that evidence is limited. Consult a healthcare provider for their recommendations to find out how much you should or shouldn’t drink based on your health history.

2. Be more active

Hitting the gym isn’t just a good way to slim down. Research indicates exercise and breast cancer are negatively correlated. Plus, exercise reduces your risk for breast cancer (and other diseases) by helping you maintain a healthy weight, reduce inflammation and regulate estrogen and other hormones. Try to do things you genuinely love and enjoy like bike riding or kayaking. Doing so can help you stick to a regular exercise routine long-term. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes per day, five days per week for the best results.

3. Review your family history

Women with a family history of breast cancer are often at higher risk for developing the disease. Ask all the women you’re related to if they experienced problems with breast cancer. Then, inform your gynecologist immediately if breast cancer takes part in your family tree. This step can help you identify an increased risk for breast cancer as early as possible.

4. Get more sleep

Making sleep a priority in your life is easier said than done. However, ensuring adequate sleep may help with breast cancer prevention. New research shows that women with chronically inadequate sleep or frequently interrupted sleep can cause a disruption in the circadian rhythm and possibly elevate the risk of developing breast cancer. Your body repairs itself while it sleeps, and generates hormones and new, healthy cells that can help reduce your risk for illness and disease in general. Aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep per night to improve your overall health and lower the risk for breast cancer.

5. Perform breast self-exams

Your gynecologist will perform a breast examination at your annual appointment, but don’t wait around for your doctor to inform you of lumps and other symptoms. Check your breasts for lumps and irregularities at least once per month, and inform your gynecologist immediately if you notice any changes in the way your breasts look or feel.

6. Visit your gynecologist every year or more as needed

Although this isn’t the only preventative measure you can take, scheduling an annual checkup with your gynecologist is highly important. In fact, the primary prevention of breast cancer involves getting yearly screenings. Meet with them around the same time every year, and don’t hesitate to make an appointment if you notice a change in your breasts or female health. Your doctor can perform a breast exam and recommend a mammogram screening to look for signs of breast cancer.

Adopting these healthy habits and keeping in touch with your gynecologist can make a big difference in your breast health, as well as your overall health. To learn more about mammograms or other forms of preventative care, make an appointment with Women’s Care Florida today.

Leep Procedure: What is it and What to Expect

You might have heard about LEEP. However, do you know what it means and how it might affect you? During LEEP or Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure, your OB-GYN removes genital warts, polyps, and abnormal cells from your vagina or cervix. A doctor may suggest that you undergo a LEEP procedure if your Pap test reveals abnormalities that increase the risk for cancer. Knowing what to expect from a LEEP can help you further reduce your risk of developing cancer in the future.

How is LEEP performed?

Your OBGYN performs LEEP generally in-office. In addition, it only takes a couple of minutes to complete. Your doctor will administer local anesthesia to prevent pain. Using a thin wire loop, they will remove any abnormalities from your cervix or vagina. Furthermore, some women report experiencing mild discomfort during the procedure.

Side effects of LEEP

You may experience mild cramping for one to two days following LEEP. Your OB-GYN may prescribe medication as a pain preventative. Plus, you may notice a discharge that looks watery or may be tinged with blood. Stick to wearing pads to manage discharge. Your doctor will advise against inserting tampons or menstrual cups into your vagina for several weeks after surgery.

How effective is the LEEP procedure?

Studies indicate that LEEP is safe, effective, and associated with minimal complications. However, contact your OB-GYN immediately if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Heavy, abnormal bleeding
  • Severe abdominal cramping
  • The passing of large blood clots during your period

If you experience these abnormalities, your doctor will perform an exam. The additional exam will determine if your symptoms are associated with LEEP in any way.

LEEP aftercare procedure

Lastly, following LEEP, your OB-GYN will send the abnormal tissue sample over to the lab for proper diagnosis. Then, they will contact you soon with test results and discuss the importance of follow-up visits if necessary. Moving forward, your doctor will screen you regularly for cervical cancer and determine whether any abnormal cell growth is still present.

To further lower your risk for cervical cancer, visit your OB-GYN as often as recommended to undergo routine Pap tests. Also, stop smoking to lower your risk of cancer. In addition, practice safe sex using a condom to prevent the exchange of sexually transmitted infections.

The board-certified physicians at Women’s Care Florida are dedicated to providing the gold-star standard in women’s healthcare. Each of our Physician Care Groups has a distinctive style and practice that can be tailored to fit your individual needs. For more information about how WCF can help you take care of you, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Ovarian Cancer: Signs, Symptoms and Risk Factors

Ovarian cancer may be rare. However, it is considered one of the deadliest cancers for women since it exhibits no symptoms in its early stages. Fortunately, ovarian cancer is treatable, and knowing more about the disease can help save your life. Experts at Women’s Care Florida outlined the following five essential facts and signs of ovarian cancer. Take a few moments to review, and make sure to read the follow-up post in part-two about the common treatments for ovarian cancer.

1. Symptoms of ovarian cancer are vague

Ovarian cancer exhibits common symptoms that could indicate one or more health problems, not just ovarian cancer. The best way to know if you’re at risk is to pay close attention to your body so you know what’s normal for you, and what isn’t. Make an appointment with your OB-GYN if you’ve been experiencing one or more of the following symptoms consistently every month.

Common signs of ovarian cancer include:

  • Vaginal bleeding past menopause
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Back pain
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in urination frequency and bowel movements

2. Early detection can improve your outcome

Ovarian cancer can be effectively treated and reversed when detected early enough. Common tests that can help detect and diagnose ovarian cancer include ultrasound, CT scan, blood tests, and surgery. Contact your OB-GYN to learn more about whether you should take these tests.

3. Ovarian cancer is associated with certain risk factors

Ovarian cancer can affect any woman, regardless of whether ovarian cancer is part of her family history. Make an appointment to be screened for ovarian cancer if you have any of the following risk factors.

Common risk factors for ovarian cancer include:

  • Those who have never been pregnant
  • Women who have uninterrupted ovulation due to infertility treatments
  • Girls who started their period at an early age
  • Those who experience menopause later than average
  • And women who smoke

4. Surgery can help with prevention

Women at high risk for ovarian cancer can lower their risk substantially by undergoing surgery to have ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. Removing the ovaries can lower ovarian cancer risk by 98 percent, and also lowers the risk for breast cancer. If you are at high risk for ovarian cancer and don’t plan on having more children, talk to your OB-GYN about the possibility of surgery to prevent ovarian cancer.

5. See a specialist

If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, ask your OB-GYN for a referral to an ovarian cancer specialist who can effectively treat your condition. An experienced ovarian cancer specialist can discuss your options for surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other treatments that can help you overcome and survive cancer.

To learn more about your ovarian cancer risks, contact a specialist at Women’s Care Florida.

Get a Jump Start on Your Breast Health

Women should be thinking about their breast health all year. Most doctors recommend doing a self-examination once a month to familiarize yourself with what feels normal and abnormal. For women in the United States, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, aside from lung cancer.

Get Screened

To safeguard your health, try to be more proactive about screenings. Women ages 45 to 54 should get a mammogram every year, according to the American Cancer Society. At Women’s Care Florida, we make it easy for you. We have in-office screenings with the flexibility to schedule mammograms either before or the same day as your well-woman visit. Additionally, we advise that women perform breast self-exams. If you feel lumps or any changes, inform your gynecologist immediately.

Breast Health Facts for Prevention

You shouldn’t stop there, either. There are many other ways you can protect yourself from breast cancer. Here is some lifestyle-related breast cancer risk factors women should be aware of:

  • Drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, those who have 2 to 5 drinks daily have 1.5 times the risk of women who don’t drink. Instead of pouring yourself a glass of wine or a pint of beer after a long day, why not relieve stress with some light exercise?
  • Some researchers believe that exercise may reduce a woman’s breast cancer risk. As little as 2.5 hours a week of brisk walking might help your risk factors, according to the American Cancer Society. To motivate yourself, ask a friend to join you at the gym or for a walk around your neighborhood.
  • Another reason to incorporate fitness into your life: being overweight or obese after menopause may increase your breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society says that after menopause, most women’s estrogen comes from fat tissue. Having more fat tissue raises estrogen levels and increases your chances of getting breast cancer.
  • Women who have not had children or who had their first child after 30 are at a slightly higher breast cancer risk. Having children is a personal choice, though it’s important to understand this is a risk factor.

Want to get a jump start on your breast health? Here are some other ways to help lower your chances of developing breast cancer. To schedule a well-woman visit or mammogram at Women’s Care Florida, click here.