Dr. Soliman recalls a cervical cancer success story.
The difficult part about treating cervix cancer is a lot of the women that are diagnosed can be pretty young at the time of diagnosis.
So we’ve seen patients that are in their early 20s, early 30s, really when people aren’t even thinking about a cancer diagnosis.
Hopefully in those situations when patients have symptoms like abnormal bleeding, bleeding after intercourse, abdominal pain or discomfort, if they seek care and can be diagnosed at an early stage they can often be cured with either surgery or chemotherapy and radiation.
I have seen patients in their early 20s, common problem is that patients haven’t had kids yet so one of the issues is, can you have kids after the diagnosis of cervix cancer.
And fortunately there are newer surgical techniques that we use that can give people appropriate cancer care but that can also spare their fertility so that in the future, if they are survivors, that they can continue to have children.
I had a young patient – 27-years-old, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer and was referred to me at MD Anderson.
When I initially saw her she was with her husband. They had recently been married and they were very, very nervous about this new diagnosis of cancer.
One of the most important questions to them was obviously what the treatment options are, what are the long-term survival and what kind of side effects people can see from the treatment itself.
Their second priority was the potential to have kids in the future so you know, she had one small child and hoped for three or four children in the future, and so when we initially discussed her treatment that was also something very important to her at the time.
Fortunately in this situation her cervix cancer was limited to the cervix and was still very early. So she had a lot of different treatment options including fertility-sparing surgery.
She had the surgery done I guess about two years ago now, hasn’t tried for her second child but has done very well and has a great future ahead of her.
The difficult part about treating cancer patients is they often come in and they are very scared.
They just got a new diagnosis, have had a lot of pain or new symptom that they didn’t understand and they just don’t really know what to expect.
People hear the word cancer and they think, h my gosh, I am going to die and that I don’t have any options.
So our job or my job is to help educate patients so not only do their surgery or give them chemotherapy but help them understand the disease that they have.
Help them understand what their treatment options are and give them support for the best decision that we can make together.
Dr. Pamela T. Soliman, M.D., M.P.H.:
Dr. Pamela T. Soliman, M.D., M.P.H., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Division of Surgery, at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Soliman earned her medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and she earned her master of public health from The University of Texas Health Science Center Houston.