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Women’s Health: What You Should Know about Gynecologic Cancers

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Gynecologic cancers are classified as any form of cancer that presents in a female’s reproductive organs, with common forms including ovarian, uterine and cervical cancers. Signs, symptoms, prevention and screening methods of gynecologic cancer vary greatly among the different forms. For instance, cervical and ovarian cancers do not present with distinct symptoms until later stages of the disease. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for women to schedule regular, annual visits to their practitioner’s office, and to be sure to mention any unusual symptoms they have been experiencing.

Fortunately, with some gynecological cancers, such as cervical cancer, there are steps we can take to help prevent the disease. Pap smears have been proven to be an effective screening method for cervical cancer, and it is recommended that women begin receiving them at age 21. Cone Health will be offering free cervical cancer screenings throughout the months of October and November to women throughout the community without health insurance or who cannot afford a doctor’s visit. Since almost all cervical cancer cases are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), another effective method of preventing the disease is to receive the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is most effective when given before an individual becomes sexually active.

Gynecologic oncologists are specialists who have received additional fellowship education and training in treating cancers of the female reproductive system. Studies have shown that gynecologic cancer patients treated by gynecologic oncologists have better outcomes than those treated by general oncologists or general gynecologists. Cone Health Cancer Center has a dedicated gynecological cancer program, in which they have partnered with board-certified gynecologic oncologists at UNC-Chapel Hill to allow women diagnosed with gynecologic cancers to receive exceptional care and cancer treatment right here in the community—close to work, home and their support networks.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Emma Rossi originates from Brisbane, Australia, where she completed her undergraduate and medical school training at the University of Queensland. She completed an OBGYN residency at Northwestern University in Chicago, followed by a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Following fellowship, Dr. Rossi served as assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Indiana University where she was an interim fellowship program director in gynecologic oncology. In 2015, she returned to the UNC-Chapel Hill where she is faculty and assistant professor with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.