The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
As women, we have complex bodies that are beautiful, strong, and unpredictable. Taking proper care of them can be exhausting and even overwhelming, especially if you’re unsure of the potential problems. But, taking extra precautions is necessary to ensure your health. So, what diseases should you be aware of, and what steps do you take to prevent them? In honor of breast cancer awareness month, let’s discuss breast cancer and other diseases women can develop.
According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is women’s second most common cancer. In some cases, breast cancer is caused by factors you can’t change, such as genetics or age. But, excessive alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and obesity can increase your chances of getting breast cancer. However, it is best to be proactive by knowing the signs. As young women, we should be doing self-breast examinations monthly, specifically looking for:
- unusual lumps on your breast or near your underarm
- a change in the shape or feeling of your breast or nipple
- any type of discharge from your nipple
Once every 3 years after 20, your healthcare provider should perform screening tests on you. But, once you reach 40 you’ll need to get one every year after… good thing you don’t have to worry about that for a while!
Compared to breast cancer, cervical cancer is something that is not as commonly talked about and is most likely forgotten about. Cervical cancer occurs in a woman’s cervix and can be caused by several different things, typically more behavioral acts rather than genetically. Even though all women are at risk, most women who develop cervical cancer contract it from a sexually transmitted disease. These women have a specific type of strain of Human Papillomavirus, better known as HPV. Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV also puts you at risk of cervical cancer. This is why it’s so important to practice safe sex! Cigarette smoking, being on birth control for more than 5 years, and age are also notable risk factors. So, what is the best way to stay on top of your health regarding cervical cancer? Well, I’m sure you’ve heard of the dreaded “pap smear.” The Papanicolaou test is a yearly screening that checks for cervical cancer, starting once you turn 21. If you’re at that age and haven’t made your appointment, do it as soon as possible!
When it comes to ovarian cancer, the risk factors are mostly unavoidable. Some of the most prominent factors come down to age, having close family members with ovarian cancer, being a carrier of the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genetic mutation, having endometriosis, or having a history of breast, uterine, or colon cancer. However, just because you may fall under one of these categories does not mean you will develop ovarian cancer, but you should definitely make your healthcare provider aware. Unlike breast and cervical cancer, there are no screenings available for ovarian cancer, unfortunately. In the early stages, ovarian cancer does not have many signs, but you can be preventative by staying aware of your body’s changes and knowing what’s normal for you!!! If you notice any unusual changes, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
These three diseases are just a few potential health problems we, as women, could face in our lives. If you’re new to San Diego or searching for a specific healthcare provider, check out ZocDoc.com! You can search for all different types of local doctors that accept your insurance using that platform!