Saturday, June 2, 2012

Soap boxing...

     Earlier this week, I had laser surgery to hopefully remove the cancerous cells that have invaded my body.  I won't know all of the test results that were done during the surgery for another two weeks, or whether or not the surgery was successful.

     It still amazes me that so few women that I've spoken to about my cancer have ever heard of it, or knew that it was possible.

     The National Cancer Institute believes that vaginal cancer is a rare cancer that affects less than 2% of all gynecological cancers in women.  I believe that percentage is wrong.  I believe that more women get it, but because they don't get annual pelvic exams, it isn't detected until it gets to Stage IV when it has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs.

     The information below is paraphrased from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America's website.  I'm sharing it not to cause panic, but to show how important it is for women to continue to have annual pelvic exams even if they have had a hysterectomy (partial or full) and have been told it wasn't necessary to continue the exams.
Fight like a girl... fight for yourself..

     The point that I really want to stress is that this IS a cancer that can spread if it goes undetected.  You must be an advocate for your own health.  Get annual exams especially if you have had to have a hysterectomy due to any kind of dysplasia.

Vaginal Cancer

There are a combination of guidelines set by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) to stage vaginal cancers.   These guidelines help doctors get an overall picture of the extent to which the cancer is affecting the body by taking into account size, shape and spread.

"The TNM system evaluates the size and extent of the tumor (T), the spread of the cancer to the lymph nodes (N), and whether or not the cancer has spread (M) to other sites, using the letter M to indicate metastasis. The combined summary of the categories TNM are reported as Stages 0-IV. The FIGO system, on the other hand, stages vaginal cancer based on the size and the extent of the tumor (T).
TNM Stage Grouping for Vaginal Cancer

The following are the TNM stage groupings for vaginal cancer:

Stage 0 Vaginal Cancer - Called carcinoma in situ (CIS), this cancer appears in the epithelium, the top cells lining the vagina. Women may also hear their doctors call this stage 3 vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN).

Stage I Vaginal Cancer - The cancer may have grown throughout the vagina, but it has not spread beyond the vagina. It has also not spread to the lymph nodes or other distant sites.

Stage II Vaginal Cancer - Doctors have discovered cancer in the connective tissue near the vagina. The disease has not spread to the wall of the pelvis or other areas of the body.

Stage III Vaginal Cancer - The vaginal cancer has spread to the walls of the pelvis and/or the nearby lymph nodes. No distant sites are affected by the cancer.

Stage IV Vaginal Cancer - In Stage IV, the cancer may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes. There are two ways to classify stage IV depending on where else in the body the cancer has spread to:

Stage IVA - The cancer may be found in the bladder, rectum or other organs located next to the vagina, and possibly the lymph nodes. Distant organs or sites are not affected.
Stage IVB - This is the most advanced stage, indicating the vaginal cancer has spread to distant sites elsewhere in the body, such as the lungs."

1 comment:

  1. I hope they were all gotten. Thanks for sharing the information. I'll be sure to teach this to both of my girls.