March is an important month for women’s health: on the 1st, awareness campaigns began on endometriosis (yellow March), a disease that affects 6.5 million Brazilian women and 176 million worldwide, according to survey by the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ)and on cervical cancer (Março Lilac).
This pathology has caused the death of 6,596 women in the country and is the third most common malignant tumor in the female population (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer), behind only breast and colorectal cancers. In addition, it is the fourth leading cause of death among women from cancer in Brazil. The data comes from National Cancer Institute (INCA).
Often asymptomatic at the initial stage, both diseases warn of the need for regular examinations, because early diagnosis can save lives.
Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease caused by cells from the endometrium (tissue that covers the uterus) which, instead of being expelled during menstruation, move in the opposite direction and fall into the ovaries or abdominal cavity , where they multiply and bleed according to Ministry of Health.
The causes are not yet well established. One of the hypotheses raised by Portal Drauzio Varella the problem is genetic and is related to possible deficiencies in the immune system.
Regular medical consultations are essential. — Photo: Getty Images
Today, endometriosis is considered the disease of modern women, who menstruate more because they delay motherhood and have fewer children. At the beginning of the 20th century, women menstruated about 40 times and today they have an average of 400 periods during their reproductive life, for the Brazilian Association of Endometriosis and Minimally Invasive Gynecology (SBE). Stress, anxiety, and genetic or environmental factors may also be linked to disease incidence.
Symptoms often vary, but in most cases involve:
- Cramps and bleeding during menstruation;
- Pain during intercourse;
- Difficulty getting pregnant.
As many girls and women suffer from colic, SBE explains that normal colic is one in which the woman improves after the use of simple analgesics, antispasmodics or anti-inflammatories.
Endometriotic colic clearly compromises the patient’s quality of life and productivity. The woman feels unable to go to school, work or carry out her usual activities. Sometimes it is even necessary to use intravenous medication for pain relief.
With this in mind, Nilva Galli, gynecologist, obstetrician, president of Unimed Presidente Prudente and coordinator of the Faculty of Medicine of Presidente Prudente (Unoeste), talks about the means of prevention and curiosities about the disease.
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Clinical gynecological examination (Papanicolaou test) is the fastest way to identify signs of endometriosis. However, the diagnosis itself only occurs with laboratory and imaging tests. In some situations, a biopsy is necessary.
Treatment depends on the age of the affected woman. In patients nearing menopause, endometriosis tends to regress gradually, as there is a drop in female hormones, according to the Department of Health.
Younger women often use medication, and when there are serious injuries to the uterus, surgery may be required.
The cervix is the part of the uterus located at the end of the vagina. Because it is located between the internal and external organs, it is exposed to contracting diseases. The information comes from Ministry of Health. Cancer in this area, also called cervical cancer, is caused by persistent infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Genital infection with this virus is very common and most of the time does not cause disease, according to the National Cancer Institute (INCA).
In some cases, cellular changes occur that can progress to cancer. These alterations are easily discovered during the preventive examination (Pap test) and are curable in almost all cases. Therefore, periodic consultations are important.
O CNIB reports that early initiation of sexual activity, having multiple partners, smoking, and prolonged use of birth control pills may be the causes of the disease. In its early stages, there are often no symptoms. But overall there is intermittent bleeding, abnormal secretions and abdominal pain.
Currently, there are only two ways to prevent cervical cancer: the use of condoms and the HPV vaccine. Unimed president Presidente Prudente comments on the issue.
INTERVIEW_02 Disseminating the means to avoid contamination by the HPV virus is a social task.
As for the diagnosis, INCA specifies that there are four possible ways to do it:
- Pelvic examination and medical history
- Preventive examination (Pap test)
The treatment of each case must be evaluated and guided by a doctor. Options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The choice will depend on the stage of evolution of the disease, the size of the tumor and personal factors, such as the patient’s age and his desire to have children.
Each case is different and nothing replaces medical follow-up.
Responsible physician: Nilva Galli – CRM 86971 – RQE 63009
Author: Amanda Medeiros
Source: Unimed Midwest Pauliste