Endometrial (womb) cancer is the most common gynaecologic cancer in Qatar, a senior HMC consultant has said.
“Obesity causes increased estrogen production and chronic inflammation, leading to a greater risk of gynaecologic cancer. This particularly applies to endometrial cancer (cancer of the womb) which is the most common gynaecologic cancer in Qatar,” said Dr Afaf al-Ansari, senior consultant obstetrics/gynaecology at the Women’s Hospital and clinical lead for gynaecological oncology multidisciplinary team.
According to the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, gynaecologic cancers account for 19% of the 5.1mn estimated new cancer cases diagnosed each year.
Gynaecologic cancer is any cancer that starts in a woman’s reproductive organs. There are five main types of gynaecologic cancer: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar, with uterine and ovarian being the most common. Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related death among women and often goes undetected until it has spread to the pelvis and abdomen.
Al-Ansari said, “There is no way to know for sure if a woman will develop a gynaecologic cancer. This is why it is important to pay attention to one’s body and to know what is normal so that the warning signs will be more apparent. Each gynaecologic cancer has different symptoms.”
Dr al-Ansari added that all women are at risk of gynaecologic cancers. “A woman’s risk increases if there is a family history of cancer, if she is obese, if she has reached menopausal age or has the human papillomavirus. However, women can lower their risk if they know the signs and symptoms and get tested or vaccinated early. When gynaecologic cancers are found early, treatment can be very effective,” she pointed out.
While having one or more risk factor does place a woman at an increased risk of developing a gynaecologic cancer, many women with risk factors may not develop the disease, while others may develop gynaecological cancer despite having no known risk factors.
However, Dr al-Ansari stressed the importance of knowing the risk factors and taking whatever measures possible to reduce one’s risk.
Women are advised to speak to their doctor regarding screening and any woman experiencing signs and symptoms of a gynaecologic-related condition is advised to refer to their primary health physician for medical advice.