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Womens Cancers and Heredity
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An_197480 posted:
I have a question concerning cancers of the reproductive system and heredity. I have two aunts on my mothers side and both had cancer (one had ovarian, the other uterine) within six months of eachother. My mother had a hysterectomy for uncontrollable bleeding and masses on her uterus that nearly killed her.
My question is: is this something I should be worried about? Do you only get these cancers if you have had sex? (26 and never had sex- is that a niave question?) I have been having pain in my pelvic area for a while now, and feb/mar I had no period whatsoever, even though my period in april was very, very light for all days except one, among other things.
I also have another question: Will doctors take you seriously on these issues even if you haven't had sex? I went to a gyn once for some problems, and she said that nothing could be wrong because I've never had sex. I know it's not true, but still. Will I be taken seriously with my concerns?
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Jane Harrison Hohner, RN, RNP responded:
Dear Anon: There are two important questions here. Let's address each separately, OK?

The issue of heredity and GYN cancers is a common concern in women. In your specific case you had one maternal aunt with ovarian cancer and one maternal aunt with uterine cancer. It does not sound like you mom had cancer--it would have been diagnosed with her hysterectomy specimen. More commonly she might have had benign fibroid masses of the uterus as these can cause profound bleeding problems. You MAY have a genetic predisposition for uterine fibroids as a result.

Here is a chart to summarize ovarian cancer risk:

No fam history= 1.5% risk
1 first degree relative= 5%
2 first degree relatives= 7%
Hereditary ov cancer syndrome= 40%
Known BCRA 1 or BCRA 2= 35-65%

In your specific case aunts are second degree relatives (not first) so unless she had a rare hereditary ovarian cancer syndrome your risk is 1.5%. Some 85% of women who get ovarian cancer have no family history of ovarian cancer!

Uterine cancer can be hereditary (eg Lynch Syndrome), but more commonly it is not directly a result of genetics.

You are correct, the only GYN cancer that is thought to be sexually linked is cervical cancer. So as a virgin you have no real risk for that. Fortunately, neither ovarian nor uterine cancer tend to be common among younger women. However a younger woman might develop uterine cancer earlier if she has had a history of many missed periods since early adolescence.

Given what you have shared (two missed flows and a too-light flow coupled with pelvic pain) I would wonder is you have a benign ovarian cyst. These commonly interfere with regular ovulations (causing period changes) and provoke pelvic pain. PLEASE go see your GYN or clinic. They will probably do a work up for an ovarian cyst including an ultrasound (ovaries visualize well on ultrasound). Given the current pain you should be checked out.

Thanks for writing.

Yours,
Jane
 
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An_197481 replied to Jane Harrison Hohner, RN, RNP's response:
Thank you Jane. That's what I wondered too. I am going to try out a new doctor (a male this time because quite frankly, his clinic is a little less expensive than the other doctors- a little nervous about that.) The cancer in my family concerned me and what you have shared made alot more sense than anything I could find. Thank you again. I hope its something easily remedied. (An ovarian cyst, from what I've read, sounds like it should go away. However, fibroids are another story it seems.) We'll see what happens. I have an appt on the 11th of May. I'm tired of hurting and want this resolved. Again, thank you. Have a wonderful day.
 
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wellnessmom4 replied to An_197481's response:
Nothing to add medically to this, but just wanted to encourage you to not be nervous about seeing a male gyn doctor. I'm much older than you, have moved several times in my life, and have probably seen at least a dozen different gyn doctors over the years, a mix of both male and female. For the most part they've all been excellent and caring. Oddly enough, the most brusque, "my face will crack if I smile" doctor I think I ever experienced was a female gyn! I only saw her once. Hope you have a good experience with the new doc...
 
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RaeMcConnahan replied to wellnessmom4's response:
Thanks wellnessmom4! I hope I can count on this doctor too. It seems easier to get in to see him too. I have many questions. But we will get this taken care of first, and then questions later. (Here's hoping my period doesn't decide to show up that day. I'd be very angry. I dont know when it's going to show up anymore.)
 
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RaeMcConnahan replied to RaeMcConnahan's response:
Oops... that was supposed to be anonymous... *sigh*


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