Gynecological Cancer Patients Find Safety, Solidarity in Support Group

Deb Petrishen says well-meaning but frustrating interactions can occur everywhere, from the grocery store to family functions. Although friends and loved ones are often sensitive and supportive, some may not know what to say to someone with stage III ovarian cancer, especially after two recurrences. Petrishen has just as much difficulty explaining her feelings. Except … Read more

What You Should Know About Cervical Cancer [Webchat]

Unlike many gynecologic cancers, there is a vaccination and screening test for cervical cancer, an important distinction in preventing and identifying the disease, according to Ursula Matulonis, MD, medical director of Gynecologic Oncology in Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, and Colleen Feltmate, MD, director of minimally invasive surgery in Gynecologic Oncology at … Read more

Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine?

What is human papillomavirus (HPV)? What cancers can it cause? The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of many related viruses passed through sexual contact. A number of HPV strains can lead to the development of cervical cancer, as well as vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancer, which occurs in the middle part of … Read more

What Are AIDS-Related Cancers?

Medically reviewed by Charles Thomas, MS, MBA People infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or AIDS are more susceptible to certain types of cancer than people who are not infected. In fact, some types of cancers are so common in people with HIV that they are referred to as AIDS-related or AIDS-defining cancers – including … Read more

Cancer Conversations Podcast – Episode #6: Cervical Cancer Research, Treatment and Prevention

Although cervical cancer incidence and death rates have decreased thanks to regular screenings, thousands of women in the U.S. are still affected by the disease every year. In this Cancer Conversations podcast episode, Ursula Matulonis, MD, medical director of the Gynecologic Oncology Program in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, joins … Read more

What Are the Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer screenings, which typically include a pelvic exam and Pap smear, have significantly reduced the number of cervical cancer incidence and death rates in the United States. These screenings are especially important because symptoms of cervical cancer often go undetected until the disease is more advanced. “The vast majority of cervical cancers are early … Read more

How Is Surgery Used to Treat Gynecologic Cancers?

Many associate cancer treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but for many women with gynecologic cancers, surgery is often the first line of defense. Colleen Feltmate, MD, director of minimally invasive surgery in gynecologic oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), shares insight into surgical options to treat these cancers.   Minimally Invasive vs. … Read more

The Latest in Cervical Cancer Treatment, Research and Prevention

Although cervical cancer is relatively rare in the United States, approximately 11,000-12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with the disease each year. Globally, that number grows to more than 500,000 diagnoses each year, making it the fourth most common women’s cancer worldwide. As January marks Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, the Susan F. Smith Center … Read more

DNA Test May Offer Alternative to Pap Smear

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel has recommended that a DNA test should be the primary screening tool for cervical cancer, rather than the traditional Pap smear. The DNA test detects the DNA of human papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually transmitted infection that causes almost all cases of cervical cancer.

“This is an important step forward for cervical cancer screening,” says Alexi Wright, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Specifically, the DNA test screens for HPV-16 and HPV-18, the two highest-risk HPV strains, as well as 12 other high-risk HPV types, using a blood sample.

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When Should My Daughter Get Her First Pap Test?

By Sarah Feldman, MD, MPH

Pap testHealthy young women should get their first Pap test at age 21. If that test is normal, they should have additional Pap tests every three years. If they have symptoms such as abnormal bleeding or are found to have an abnormality on their cervix during an exam, they may need a diagnostic Pap for cervical cancer earlier. Immunosuppressed women should start Pap testing with the onset of sexual activity, then repeat annually.

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