Breast cancer is a serious health concern. It is the most common form of cancer in Myanmar women of all ages.
The first sign of breast cancer is a breast lump or an abnormal mammogram. Breast cancer stages range from early, curable breast cancer to advanced breast cancer that has spread.
• The first symptom is a lump in the breast or underarm that persists after your menstrual cycle. They are usually painless, although some may cause a prickly sensation. Lumps are usually visible on a mammogram long before they can be seen or felt.
• Swelling in the armpit.
• Pain or tenderness in the breast.
• A noticeable flattening or indentation on the breast, which may indicate a tumor that cannot be seen or felt.
• Any change in the size, shape, texture, or temperature of the breast. A reddish, pitted surface like the skin of an orange could be a sign of advanced breast cancer.
• A change in the nipple, such as a nipple retraction, dimpling, itching, a burning sensation, or forming ulcers.
• Unusual discharge from the nipple that may be clear, bloody, or another color. This could be due to cancer only in some cases.
• A marble-like area under the skin.
• An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast.
Breast cancer screenings, such as breast exams or mammograms, help detect breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage.
Cervical cancer begins in the cervix, which is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. It is the most common form of cancer for women aged 15-44 in Myanmar.
Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by a high-risk type of HPV. HPV is a virus that is passed from person to person through genital contact, such as vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If the HPV infection does not go away on its own, it may cause cervical cancer over time. Other things may increase the risk of developing cancer following a high-risk HPV infection. These other things include:
• Having HIV or reduced immunity
• Taking birth control pills for a long time (more than five years)
• Having given birth to three or more children
You can prevent cervical cancer by getting the HPV vaccine. This vaccine has been available in Myanmar since 2008. Ask your health care provider or health center about getting vaccinated. Getting regular pelvic exams can help detect cervical cancer early and using condoms during sex can prevent the spread of HPV.
Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which are located on each side of the uterus.
Ovarian cancer is cancer that begins in the ovaries. The ovaries make female hormones and produce a woman’s eggs. Ovarian cancer is a serious cancer that is more common in older women. Treatment is most effective when the cancer is found early.
• Pain in the pelvis or abdomen (belly)
• Bloating in the abdomen
• Urinary urgency (needing to pee right away)
• Urinary frequency (having to pee often)
• Constipation or diarrhea
• Feeling full quickly while eating
• Having difficulty eating
• Vaginal bleeding or other discharge that is different than normal
• Back pain
Cancer of the uterus is cancer in the womb, the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows during a woman’s pregnancy. There are different types of uterine cancers. Two types are endometrial cancer and uterine sarcomas. Endometrial cancer is the more common cancer of the two. This type of cancer happens when cancer begins in the tissue lining the uterus (endometrium). Uterine sarcomas occur when cancer grows in the muscles or other supporting tissues in the uterus. Uterine sarcomas account for only a small portion of cancers of the uterus.
Vaginal cancer – begins in the vagina, which is the hollow, tube-like channel between the bottom of the uterus and the outside of the body.
Vaginal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the vagina.
The vagina is the canal leading from the cervix (the opening of uterus) to the outside of the body. At birth, a baby passes out of the body through the vagina (also called the birth canal).
Vaginal cancer is not common. There are two main types of vaginal cancer:
Squamous cell carcinoma: Cancer that forms in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells lining the vagina. Squamous cell vaginal cancer spreads slowly and usually stays near the vagina, but may spread to the lungs, liver, or bone. This is the most common type of vaginal cancer.
Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that begins in glandular (secretory) cells. Glandular cells in the lining of the vagina make and release fluids such as mucus. Adenocarcinoma is more likely than squamous cell cancer to spread to the lungs and lymph nodes. A rare type of adenocarcinoma is linked to being exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth. Adenocarcinomas that are not linked with being exposed to DES are most common in women after menopause.
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for vaginal cancer include the following:
Being aged 60 or older.
Being exposed to DES while in the mother’s womb. In the 1950s, the drug DES was given to some pregnant women to prevent miscarriage (premature birth of a fetus that cannot survive). Women who were exposed to DES before birth have an increased risk of vaginal cancer. Some of these women develop a rare form of vaginal cancer called clear cell adenocarcinoma.
Having human papilloma virus (HPV) infection.
Having a history of abnormal cells in the cervix or cervical cancer.
Having a history of abnormal cells in the uterus or cancer of the uterus.