What Is Pelvic Cancer?
First, the pelvic area is the lower portion of the trunk of your body. The pelvic bones, rectum, bladder and reproductive organs are all located in the pelvic area. This is why the pelvic cancer is linked to several cancers involving the organs and structures in the pelvis or cervical area.
Furthermore, pelvic cancer affects both sexes contrary to popular belief; the bladder, anal, rectal, cartilage, or bone can be affected by cancer in both genders. However, there are pelvic cancers that can affect men and women respectively. For women, this includes vaginal, ovarian, cervical, vulva, and uterine cancer, while in men, it includes testicular and prostate cancer.
Fortunately, damaged or old cells in the body stop dividing and die before they become cancerous, and healthy young cells replace old or damaged cells. So how does cancer occur? Basically, cancer occurs when damaged or old cells divide and multiply uncontrollably. In pelvic cancer, cancer develops in the structures or organs of the pelvic area.
What are the treatment and prognosis of pelvic cancer?
The prognosis and treatment of pelvic cancer vary; it depends on the type of cancer and the stage of advancement; medical history, coexisting conditions or diseases, age as well as age other factors. Moreover, the treatment may involve radiation therapy, surgery, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. To get the best prognosis for a complete cure, diagnosis and treatment should be done in the early stage to stop the pelvic-cancer cells from spreading to other parts.
Pelvic cancer, if not detected on time can lead to serious health complications and possibly death. It is advisable to see regular medical care; it gives the best chances of discovering pelvic cancer in its early curable) stage. Also, strictly following the treatment plan can also reduce the risk of life-threatening complications.
Symptoms of pelvic cancer
The symptoms depend on the type of cancer in the pelvic area. Below are the signs for some of the pelvic cancers.
Ovarian cancer can affect a single or both ovaries. The ovaries contain eggs, and they are responsible for producing female hormones. Ovarian cancer rarely produces symptoms in its earliest stages, which makes it difficult to detect. However, when symptoms occur, they imitate symptoms of other diseases and may indicate a more advanced stage. The symptoms may include frequent urination, abdominal bloating, constipation, Diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, and pelvic pain.
This type of pelvic cancer affects the bladder; the bladder is part of the urinary system, which stores urine, and some of the symptoms are fatigue, unexplained weight loss, blood in the urine, frequent, painful or urgent urination, bone pain, abdominal or pain or tenderness, and incontinence.
It affects the cervix; cervix is the organ that enables an opening between the vaginal and the uterus. Cervical cancer like ovarian cancer does not show symptoms in the early stages, once the symptoms occur, it may indicate a more advanced stage of cancer. The symptoms include lower back pain, irregular or light periods, bloody, unusual or foul-smelling vaginal discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding after sex, in between menstrual periods, or menopause and pelvic pain.
As you have guessed, prostate cancer affects the prostate gland, which is part of the man’s reproductive system. The prostate gland is like the size of a walnut that surrounds the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body inside a man’s pelvis otherwise known as the urethra. The symptoms include bloody urine or semen, difficulty in urinating, bone pain, slow urine stream, and dribbling or leaking urine.
Endometrial cancer affects the lining of the uterus, which is the pear-shaped organ where a fetus can grow during pregnancy. The major symptom of the uterine cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, which occurs after menopause, or between menstrual periods. However, other symptoms may include fast-growing fibroids, pelvic pain or cramping, and unusual vaginal discharge that is pink and watering, brown in color and foul-smelling.
The symptoms include enlargement or swelling in the testicles, lump in a testicle, growth of breast tissue (gynecomastia), pain in the lower abdomen or back, changes in bowel habits, itching and discharges from the anus, bloody stool or bleeding anus, discomfort or pain in the scrotum, pelvic or abdominal pain, narrow stool and lumps in the anus.
Vaginal and vulvar cancer
These types of cancer affect the vaginal canal and vulva or the outer folds of skin that surround the vaginal opening. The some of the symptoms are bloody urine or stool, changes in the vulva color, abdominal discharge or bleeding, frequent urination, constipation, pelvic or abdominal pain, itching or burning vulva, lumps, sores or ulcers on the vulva.
Anal and rectal cancer
Anal cancer affects the anus, which is the opening that allows the passage of the stool, and rectal cancer affects the rectum, which is the final portion of the large intestine that holds stool from elimination. The symptoms include changes in bowel habits, itching and discharge from the anus, narrow stool, bloody stool or bleeding from the anus, lumps in the anus, and abdominal or pelvic pain.
Chondrosarcoma and Osteosarcoma
Chondrosarcoma is the cancer of the cartilage while Osteosarcoma is the cancer of the bone. They both can often occur in the pelvis and the upper leg or shoulder. Nonetheless, the common symptoms of both cancers are bone pain or swelling in the pelvic area.
Causes of pelvic cancer
As stated above, the old and damaged cells stop dividing and they die before they become cancerous, while the healthy young cells replace them. However, pelvic cancer occurs when the old or damaged cells continue to divide and multiply uncontrollably; unfortunately, the cause is still unknown to us.
Furthermore, some cancers have definite causes. For instance, some types of cancers like ovarian cancer have been connected to mutations of specific genes. Cervical cancer is one of the examples of cancer that is caused by HPV- human papillomavirus infection. Genital warts cause HPV, and it is spread through sexual contact. Sadly, it has no symptoms; the HPV has been linked to anal, vaginal and vulvar cancer.
In addition people who are 50+, exposed to certain medications, environmental or chemical toxins, who practice multiple sex partners, have a partner who is exposed to HPV, smoke, and have unprotected sex are at risk of having pelvic cancer. You can lower the risk of having pelvic cancer by abstaining from sex, having regular screening tests as recommended by your healthcare provider, and quit smoking. For more information on pelvic cancer, talk to any healthcare provider near you.