Cervical Cancer is just one of a group of gynecological cancers that start in a woman’s reproductive organs, aka the area below the belly button and between your hip bones. The other main types of gynecological cancers are Ovarian cancer, Uterine cancer, Vaginal cancer, and Vulvar cancer. Each cancer has unique signs and symptoms, but one thing is the same-all women carry the risk for gynecologic cancers and the risk grows with age.
A variety of prevention and treatment options are now available, thanks to advances in medical technology. Preventative screening options like Pap Smears & HPV tests (most accurate for detecting cervical cancer) have helped to decrease the number of cases of Cervical cancer in the recent years. Vaccines have been developed to help reduce the risk of several gynecological cancers by preventing against the common culprit, the HPV virus. Treatment options for gynecological cancers include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgical interventions, which have helped to increase the survival rate. However, the urinary system and pelvic floor undergo stress and trauma in response to treatment, leaving many gynecological cancer survivors to experience urinary symptoms of incontinence.
A study comparing the effects of pelvic floor strengthening among 40 gynecological cancer survivors (60% uterine cancer, 40% other gynecological cancers) who experienced urinary incontinence after their cancer treatment brought to light the trauma to the pelvic floor. Participants were randomly assigned to an experimental group and a control group. The experimental group participated in pelvic floor muscle (PFM) strengthening exercises (aka Kegel exercises) 22 days of the month for three months. The control group did not participate in any targeted PFM exercises. After three months, 80% of the experimental group (compared to only 40% of the control group) reported significant improvements in their urinary incontinence.