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Every year, the month of September is observed as Gynaecologic Cancer Awareness Month. According to reports, every five minutes, someone will be diagnosed with forms of gynaecologic cancers and over 33,000 will die from gynaecologic cancer this year. The day was established by the Foundation for Women's Cancer in 1999.
Gyneacologic cancer refers to the development of cancer or tumour cells in the reproductive organs of a woman's body. The most common forms are uterine cancer, cervical cancer and ovarian cancer while vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer and gestational trophoblastic tumour are relatively rare cancers.
In the event of Gynaecologic Cancer Awareness Month, Milann, one of the largest fertility and birthing care providers in collaboration with HCG Cancer Hospital Bengaluru, organized an awareness talk on ovarian cancer, its symptoms, early detection and treatment as well as fertility preservation in cancer patients on the occasion of Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month.
While the talk on ovarian cancer was addressed by Dr. Nisha Buchade, Consultant - Gynaec Oncology, HCG Cancer Hospital, Dr. Vyshnavi Rao, Consultant - Reproductive Medicine, Milann Fertility & Birthing Centre addressed fertility preservation in cancer patients.
Addressing the audience, Dr. Nisha Buchade, Consultant - Gynaec Oncology, HCG Cancer Hospital Bengaluru said, "With the increasing incidences of women being affected by Ovarian Cancer in India, we need to take constructive steps in creating awareness about detection of ovarian cancer at an early stage. Women need to know their family medical history and genetic factors as they play an important role in ovarian cancer. Up to 10 per cent of women having a family history of fallopian tube cancer, ovarian cancer, and peritoneal cancer, should undergo genetic testing for mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. It is one of the deadliest gynecologic cancers and spreading awareness about it is very crucial. The best treatment is prevention.
Any cancers that begin in women's reproductive organs are called gynecological cancers. Gynecological cancers are one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in women worldwide. In fact, ovarian cancer is the third most common gynaecological cancer in women and is responsible for most of the deaths that occur due to gynaecological cancers in the world. However, there is a lack of awareness in the world when it comes to gynaecological cancers.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Vyshnavi Rao, Consultant - Reproductive Medicine, Milann Fertility & Birthing Centre, Bengaluru said, "Today, cancer patients not only have a better rate of survival but can also think of parenthood and starting a family. Cancer treatment can affect fertility in both men and women. However, there are many techniques like egg freezing, embryo freezing, donor eggs, donor embryos, donor sperms and sperm freezing that can help in preserving fertility. However, unfortunately, most of the time, fertility preservation techniques are not even discussed with the patient before starting cancer therapy. Radiation oncologists should refer patients to reproductive specialists at the earliest, given the fact that they encounter multiple patients."
Fertility preservation is a technique where the sperms, eggs or embryos are preserved for future use in IVF treatment. The process involves freezing sperms prior to beginning chemotherapy or radiotherapy besides freezing extra embryos obtained from the IVF cycle.
While both chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be damaging to the ovary depending on the agent used, the dose given, and age of the patient, techniques like Ovarian Transposition (which involves physically moving the ovaries out of the pelvis through operational methods) have been proven to be efficient in fertility preservation in women. However, fertility preservation is not just about eggs and sperm. In fact, it is about fulfilling the dreams of patients suffering from cancers and cancer survivors who also desire parenthood.
Since 2016, India has seen an addition of one lakh new cases of cervical cancer every year. Cervical cancer is a preventable disease through routine pap smear tests, getting vaccinated against human papillomavirus, which can also cause a rare vaginal cancer, and practising safe sex and personal hygiene.