The Foundation for Women’s Cancer (FWC) declared September Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness about symptoms, risk factors, prevention and the importance of early detection for all gynecologic cancers—cervical, ovarian, uterine/endometrial, vaginal and vulvar cancer.
Uterine cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in the United States. While there are many types of uterine cancer, the most common is endometrial cancer, a cancer of the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium). Endometrial cancer affects more than 65,000 women each year.
“In 70% of women, we are able to catch endometrial cancer in the early stages of the disease,” said gynecologic oncologist, Lauren Prescott, M.D. “The most common sign is abnormal bleeding, which includes bleeding after menopause or between periods or heavy periods for women who have not gone through menopause. If a woman is experiencing these symptoms, she needs to be evaluated.”
As a gynecologic oncologist, Prescott specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers in the female reproductive organs, providing care for women from diagnosis, through treatment and recovery. Data indicates that women treated for gynecologic cancer by a gynecologic oncologist have higher cure rates
“Your gynecologic oncologist serves as the captain of the ship, although there are many involved in a patient’s care,” said Dr. Prescott. “My role is to oversee all of your care and ensure you’re connected with the right people. Your primary care physician or gynecologist helps identify the problem, but once a diagnosis has been made, it’s very important to see a gynecologic oncologist for treatment.”
Endometrial cancer treatment varies depending on the patient, cancer type and stage. Treatment options can include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Prescott is specially trained in robotic surgery, which has expanded minimally invasive surgery options for women in Williamson County and surrounding communities. In addition to patient benefits including shorter hospital stays and faster recoveries, robotic-assisted surgery can be utilized for sentinel lymph node mapping to diagnose more advanced staged disease, a procedure she utilizes for management of her patients with endometrial cancer.
“During a robotic surgery for endometrial cancer, we are able to perform lymph node mapping to diagnose the stages of the disease,” said Dr. Prescott. “This decreases surgery time and associated risks. Because Williamson Medical has a robot, I’m able to provide this level of sub-specialty care right here in this community.”
With only five percent of endometrial cancers hereditary, the vast majority are linked to high levels of estrogen, often caused by obesity. Fat cells produce increased estrogen levels, so diet and exercise are imperative to reducing the risk of endometrial cancer. Preventative care and paying attention to changes in your body will help ensure early detection.
While endometrial cancer is most common in women 60 years old or older who have gone through menopause, the reported cases in younger women are on the rise in tandem with the growing obesity epidemic.
“When women are done childbearing, their tendency to go to the doctor drops off,” said Dr. Prescott. “It’s important to stay up-to-date on those visits and see a doctor with any presenting symptoms regardless of age.”
Prescott sees patients at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville and Cool Springs and performs surgery and treatment at both Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Williamson Medical Center, which has been an extremely rewarding experience, she says.
“I’ve always been drawn to women’s health,” Dr. Prescott said. “I feel very blessed to take care of women during such a difficult time. It’s a privilege and an honor to provide the care I would want to be provided if I were the patient.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Prescott, call (615) 936-8422. To learn more about minimally invasive, robotic-assisted procedures, visit www.WilliamsonMedicalCenter.org/robotics.
Share this Article