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How cancer affects Guam's women

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - The Guam Medical Association's Pacific Cancer Forum that will be held at The Hyatt. For the last few weeks we've been showcasing some of the doctors who will be speaking at the conference, with this installment detailing cancer affecting women on Guam.

"Combatting Cancer Through Research, Early Diagnosis and Treatment" Pacific Cancer Conference is ready to go this weekend where we'll have specialists from Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Palau, American Samoa, and Hawaii. Tonight we feature Guam's very own women's health specialist, Dr. Thomas Shieh. According to the obstetrician and gynecologist, there is a cure for cancer, saying, "The best thing to know about cancer is that to me, there is a cure and that cure is early detection because if you pick it up early we can treat it and we can cure you."

Dr. Shieh says women who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer are suspect to the cancers too. "What we want to do is make sure that women know how to do a breast exam, know the risk factors that are involved, and make sure that they understand that their risk of getting breast cancer is actually one in seven. It gets less and less if you can do the follow-up care and making sure that prevention is done. Smoking and alcohol and all those things that you've got to be careful with and of course mammograms save lives," he said.

For diabetic women on Guam, it's important to get checked for uterine cancer through your annual pap smear. "When you talk about uterine cancer the chance for you to get uterine cancer is important because the risk of uterine cancer is high on Guam, especially we have a lot of diabetics here on Guam. If you're diabetic, you have a higher risk for uterine cancer. The symptoms of uterine cancer of course is bleeding...abnormal bleeding, heavy bleeding, irregular bleeding. Those are all symptoms of uterine cancer," he said.

Cervical cancer is another cancer women need to be aware of and can get checked through annual pap smears. "Pap smears can pick up cervical cancer early on. Today there should be nobody getting cervical cancer. We should be wiping that out with pap smears so it's important to make sure you get your pap smears done," he said.

But of all female cancers, Dr. Shieh says ovarian cancer is the deadliest, affecting one in 70 women. "There's really no screening test for ovarian cancer. The best test that we have right now is doing annual pelvic examinations. The symptoms of ovarian cancer is bloating, fluid retention, those all symptoms there. So make sure you get your annual exam and make sure as a part of the annual exam is included in there is a pap smear and an ovarian cancer screening, which is just a manual pelvic exam," he said.

It's not too late to register for the Pacific Cancer Conference, which is set for this weekend at The Hyatt Regency Guam.

For more information call 483-6600.

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