Four cancer facts every woman must know

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Amanda Bruegl, MD, treats gynecologic cancers in patients at the Salem Cancer Institute. You would expect a surgeon to want to talk about the kinds of treatments and surgeries she does. Instead, Dr. Bruegl wants to share what you need to know to reduce the chance of getting cancer.

  1. A change in bleeding pattern can be a warning sign from your body. Regular periods are roughly 28 to 35 days apart, occurring in a fairly predictable pattern. If you’ve had regular periods all your life but then experience a change in bleeding pattern, such as bleeding in between periods or heavier menstrual flow, tell your primary care provider.
  2. All bleeding after menopause needs to be evaluated. Bleeding after menopause can be an early warning sign of endometrial cancer. Any bleeding should prompt a discussion with your primary care provider so steps can be taken to determine the underlying cause.
  3. Excess weight is a risk factor for endometrial cancer. Estrogen, in excess, is a risk factor for developing endometrial pre-cancer and cancer. Estrogen is produced in the ovaries, but it can also be produced by fat cells. Excess fat cells can lead to additional estrogen in the body that can stimulate cells in the uterine lining and lead to cancer. A healthy diet and exercise are important to maintain wellness and can also help decrease the risk of some cancers.
  4. The HPV vaccine series is a powerful tool to prevent HPV-associated cancers. Ideally, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is administered during childhood prior to sexual contact or exposure to HPV. This vaccine is a powerful tool to prevent multiple types of cancers including cervical cancer.

Dr. Bruegl encourages you to discuss these prevention steps with your primary care physician. And if you do need cancer care to seek treatment and support from the Salem Cancer Institute team.