Cervical Cancer Screening in Loveland, CO
Know the Difference Between Cervical and Ovarian Cancer
There are several common cancers specific to women. However, the differences between some of these conditions are slim, and it’s easy to get them confused with each other. Cervical cancer and ovarian cancer are just a couple of examples of these easy-to-confuse conditions. The team at The Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado is here to ensure that you understand the basics of each condition. While they affect the same region of the body, they have different signs, symptoms, and causes. Learn more about these cancers from our medical professionals in Loveland and Fort Collins, CO.
Ovarian and Cervical Cancer Explained
Not many of us are anatomy professionals, so it can be a challenge to really understand the difference between ovarian and cervical cancer. Let’s start with a brief definition of each type:
- Cervical Cancer: This condition occurs when cancerous cells develop and accumulate in the cervix. The beginning stages of this cancer usually show no symptoms, but thankfully, cervical cancer treatment is often effective.
- Ovarian Cancer: Ovarian cancer affects the ovaries, which are located in the bottom part of the abdomen just below the belly button. This cancer causes mutated cells to develop in the fallopian tubes and peritoneum as well.
What Are Their Symptoms?
It’s easiest to tell the difference between each cancer when symptoms start to show. However, these symptoms are often invisible until the later stages of the disease or are easily confused with other conditions. In any case, we recommend getting familiar with both ovarian and cervical cancer symptoms:
Cervical Cancer: In the advanced stages of cervical cancer, patients begin to experience irregular vaginal bleeding. They might have heavier-than-normal periods or bleeding after menopause. Other symptoms of cervical cancer include:
- Pelvic pain
- Painful intercourse
- Back pain
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Vaginal discharge
- Spotting between periods
Ovarian Cancer: Ovarian cancer has a slew of symptoms, many of which are related to other conditions as well. Patients with ovarian cancer report the following:
- Irregular periods
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Feeling of fullness
- Back pain
- Difficulty urinating
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Pain during sexual intercourse
What Causes Each Cancer?
The exact causes of ovarian and cervical cancers are not well known. However, researchers have found links between cancer and certain medical conditions and gene mutations. Here’s what we know about the causes of these cancers:
- Cervical Cancer: Almost all cases of cervical cancer are related to an HPV infection. Studies suggest that HPV induces cell changes that cause them to mutate out of control. Some research indicates that smoking and a compromised immune system may also have a hand in causing cervical cancer.
- Ovarian Cancer: The causes of ovarian cancer are even less understood than cervical cancer. Current theories indicate that ovarian cancer may be hereditary. Other studies suggest a link between this cancer and smoking, obesity, and a family history of breast cancer.
How We Diagnose Cervical and Ovarian Cancer
Because cervical and ovarian cancer is hard to detect, diagnoses are also difficult. To maximize your chances of identifying the disease early, it’s crucial to visit your local women’s health provider for testing or screenings. We typically diagnose cervical and ovarian cancer using the following methods:
- Cervical Cancer: All patients over the age of 21 should begin getting regular Pap smears to look for signs of precancerous cells. Unless an abnormal Pap smear result comes back, most patients can wait three years before their next screening. HPV testing is another way we can identify risk factors for cervical cancer. Depending on your age and current condition, your provider will let you know when to schedule your next round of testing.
- Ovarian Cancer: Diagnosing ovarian cancer isn’t as easy as a Pap smear or HPV test. Patients who show signs of ovarian cancer may need a few different tests to make an accurate diagnosis. First, your doctor will take a look at your family history and perform a pelvic exam. Patients who show signs of cancer may undergo additional testing to confirm. Ultrasound, MRIs, blood tests, and biopsies are all common ways medical professionals confirm an ovarian cancer diagnosis.
Contact Us at the First Sign of Cancer
Whether you’ve noticed cervical or ovarian cancer symptoms or you want to come in for a check-up, don’t hesitate to contact The Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado. We serve Loveland and Fort Collins residents, and we want you to have peace of mind about your health. Our team will conduct a variety of tests and make sure you understand your treatment options. We know how scary the idea of a cancer diagnosis is, but we’ll be at your side to offer support.