Women over 40: cancer risk and prevention

SAN ANTONIO (April 4, 2011) – For women over 40, the risk of gynecological cancers rises. Ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancers have varying symptoms and treatments, and each is different in terms of what can be done do to prevent it. Kevin Hall, M.D., chief of the division of gynecology/oncology at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, will discuss these cancers and what women can do to protect their health in a free public presentation on Thursday, April 14, at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

Breast cancer will also be discussed, said Dr. Hall, since women who have genetic aberrations known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 have a higher likelihood of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Dr. Hall will talk about whether women should have genetic testing or other screenings to assess their risks, and what their options are if they test positive.

He’ll also discuss the warning signs of ovarian cancer.

“Those can be tricky to spot,” Dr. Hall said. “The symptoms can be fairly vague.” Symptoms such as increased urination or pelvic pressure or unexplained poor appetite can also mean other things, he said. So can weight gain around the middle, he said. However, that can be a red flag if it follows a certain pattern. “If they feel like they’re getting fat in the middle, but everything else is getting skinny, that can be a warning sign.”

Cervical and endometrial cancer tend to be found earlier because their signs are more obvious, and Dr. Hall will discuss those risk factors, along with the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is recommended for young women up to the age of 26, because the idea is vaccinate them before they are exposed to the virus. However, Dr. Hall said, there are studies under way to see whether the vaccine proves helpful in women who have already been exposed to the virus.

Thursday’s presentation will be from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center, 7979 Wurzbach, San Antonio, Texas, on the 4th floor of the Grossman Building. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call 210-450-1152.

The Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the elite academic cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center, and is one of only four in Texas. A leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, the CTRC Institute for Drug Development (IDD) conducts one of the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug programs in the world, and participates in development of cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit www.ctrc.net.

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