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Interesting Article for the Ladies !!!





Quit Date: 7 /8/2013


Posted July 12, 2019 



Women Who Smoke At Risk of Vulval Cancer

27 June 2019

By Frances Hardy

In the UK, 58 women are diagnosed and 21 die each day from gynaecological cancers. Here a doctor explains the impact smoking can have on a woman's body

For many people, the idea of developing cancer is hard to comprehend. 

Yet young female smokers are at particular risk of developing the disease – in parts of their body they might not even know could be affected by their habit. 

Dr Jeff Foster, a private GP based in Leamington Spa, explains: “Smoking is a serious risk factor for many cancers including lung, breast and throat. But it’s easy to forget it is having the same impact all over the body.”

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In particular, smoking is a risk factor for gynaecological cancers. In the UK, 58 women are diagnosed and 21 die each day from one of these cancers, which includes womb, ovarian, cervical, vaginal and vulval.

This last is probably the least known type - yet vulval cancer is diagnosed in 1,000 women each year, according to the Eve Appeal, the charity which specialises in gynaecological cancers. 

Mostly found in women over 60 – although younger cases are becoming more common – vulval cancer has been linked to the human papilloma virus (HPV) infection as well as a weakened immune system. It can also be due to a skin condition called lichen sclerosus.

And according to Cancer Research UK, researchers have found a clear link between vulval cancer and smoking.

Researchers have found a clear link between vulval cancer and smoking

This is partly because smoking weakens our immune system so that it’s harder to get rid of infections such as HPV which cause cancer.

It is also possible, says Cancer Research UK, that the harmful substances in tobacco damage cells in the vulva directly and so lead to the development of vulval cancer.  Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a risk factor for vulval cancer as well as cervical cancer. It is possible that being a smoker may mean that you are less able to get rid of the HPV infection from your body.

One of the dangers of this type of cancer is that its intimate location means women may not notice early symptoms, so diagnosis comes later than it should.

“Many women will only be diagnosed with vulval cancer,” Dr Foster explains, “when they are examined for something else, like a repeat smear test.”


However, there may be earlier signs, including a new itch or sore patch, a lump or swelling on the labia, or a burning pain when you pass urine. "Women should never be embarrassed to contact their GP if they experience any of these," he adds.

Treatment is surgery, Dr Foster says, unless the cancer has spread into lymph nodes. “Vulval cancer doesn’t usually spread too far so chemo is not often needed although a course of radiotherapy may be used.”

Survivors of vulval cancer are grateful but tell of operations which have left them feeling less feminine as a result. 

Clare Baumhauer, in her 40s, from Kent, explained in her blog that radiotherapy had sent her into an early menopause, saying: “In May 2016 I had the surgery to remove a tumour from my perineum, but they couldn’t get clear margins so I had radiotherapy but unfortunately it had spread to my lymph nodes so I then had two further operations on my lymph nodes and more radiotherapy.

Giving up smoking is essential

"Which put me straight into the menopause and I now have lymphedema in both my legs, pelvis and abdomen, among other side effects.”

On the whole, survival rates are good. According to Cancer Research UK, for all women with vulval cancer more than 80 percent will survive their cancer for five years or more after diagnosis.

"Giving up smoking is essential," says Dr Foster, to "prevent further cell damage and to help your body recover faster."

“Better still,” he says, “young women could be encouraged to give up smoking before cell changes make cancer inevitable.”


Link to original post: https://www.quittrain.com/topic/12727-interesting-article-for-the-ladies/


Edited by jillar

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