Pre-Cancerous & Cancerous Conditions in Women

Tampa General Hospital offers the latest advancements in care to women with cancer and pre-cancerous conditions. Our expertise covers all types of cancer, including the malignancies that most commonly affect women, such as:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Endometrial (uterine) cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Ovarian cancer

Pre-cancerous conditions are not cancer, but they involve abnormal cellular changes that may lead to cancer in the future. Some of the most frequently seen pre-cancerous conditions in women include:

  • Breast calcifications
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
  • Vulvar lichen sclerosus
  • Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia
  • Vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia

Causes

Cancer is caused by changes in cellular DNA that trigger abnormal cell growth. The factors behind this abnormal cell growth are still unclear, although some cancers are closely linked to harmful behaviors such as smoking, consuming an unhealthy diet and not wearing sunscreen.

While there’s no way to definitively prevent any cancer, women are encouraged to prioritize their health and reduce their cancer risk by:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Quitting smoking
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption
  • Wearing sunscreen and protecting their skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Eating a nutrient-rich diet with limited amounts of red meat and processed foods

Symptoms

Most pre-cancerous conditions do not cause noticeable symptoms, while cancer symptoms vary according to type:

Breast Cancer

  • A lump in breast tissue
  • Dimpling or swelling of breast skin
  • Changes to the nipple’s appearance
  • Swollen lymph nodes around the underarm or collarbone

Colorectal Cancer

  • Blood in stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Changes in bowel habits

Lung Cancer

  • A cough that worsens or persists for more than two or three weeks
  • A cough that produces blood
  • Recurrent chest infections
  • Frequent breathlessness

Skin Cancer

  • A mole that changes shape or color
  • A patch of discolored or raised skin that may be itchy
  • A sore that doesn’t heal or heals and returns
  • A growth with raised edges

Gynecological Cancers (Endometrial, Cervical & Ovarian)

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Pelvic pain or pressure
  • A frequent urge to urine
  • Constipation or bloating

Diagnosis

Signs of pre-cancerous conditions and cancers in women are usually identified during routine exams or screenings, such as:

  • Physicals
  • Imaging tests, including ultrasounds and X-rays
  • Urine tests
  • Blood tests

A biopsy may be performed to collect a tissue sample from the affected area and evaluate it under a microscope for cancerous cells.

Treatments

Women who turn to TGH have access to a full range of specialized cancer treatment and preventive care services. Our multidisciplinary team includes OB/GYNs, medical oncologists, gynecological oncologists, surgeons and other experts who help women achieve their very best health. While pre-cancerous conditions usually require careful monitoring and regular cancer screenings, cancer may be treated through a combination of surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, along with progressive approaches such as targeted therapy or immunotherapy.