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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 2, 2004

UI Specialists Urge Awareness Of Gynecologic Cancers

Specialists with Holden Comprehensive Center at the University of Iowa are urging women to become more aware about what they can do to protect themselves from gynecologic cancers.

Approximately 82,000 women in America are diagnosed with a cancer of the reproductive system every year, according to the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation. Gynecologic oncologists are especially stressing the need to boost awareness among women during the month of September, designated as Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month. The forms of gynecologic cancer include cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer and gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD).

"Gynecologic cancer is obviously a serious concern, as a woman is diagnosed with one of these diseases in the United States every seven minutes," said Koen De Geest, M.D., a specialist in gynecologic cancer in the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center and a professor (clinical) of obstetrics and gynecology in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. "The first step is for all women to get to know their family history so they know if they might have an increased genetic risk for such cancers." De Geest serves as director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Next, the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation recommends that women conduct an online cancer risk assessment service at its web site. That address is www.wcn.org.

The third step is education. Learn how you can reduce your risk for gynecologic cancer by taking steps such as quitting smoking, consuming a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Learn the warning signs of gynecologic cancer, including a full, bloated feeling, abdominal pain, and swelling. If you experience any of these or other unusual symptoms, it is important to see your physician.

"As with all cancers, early detection is important because the sooner we find the cancer, the more effective treatment can be," De Geest said. "Simple preventive steps, such as quitting smoking, also dramatically lower a woman's risk for the disease."

Finally, make an appointment for your annual gynecologic examination and screening test.

You can obtain additional information about research efforts and gynecologic cancer by contacting the Cancer Information Service in the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at 319-356-4262, or toll-free at 1-800-237-1225 or by e-mail at cancer-information@uiowa.edu.

The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center is Iowa's only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center. NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers are recognized as the leaders in developing new approaches to cancer prevention and cancer care, conducting leading edge research and educating the public about cancer.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at http://www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945, thomas-moore@uiowa.edu.