Often education is the biggest hurdle in the prevention and early diagnosis of gynecological cancers, according to Dr. Steven Goldstein.
Luckily, awareness is high among Jewish women, who are at much higher risk for developing certain cancers associated with the gene known as BRCA.
“There is an awareness, and a trend toward understanding the importance of family history and ethnic background,” said Goldstein, a gynecologist. “That helps their health outlook in the future.”
Goldstein will join a variety of presenters — including doctors, therapists, and even a cosmetologist — for a Women’s Health Day sponsored by three synagogue sisterhoods on Sunday, March 27, at Temple Shaari Emeth in Manalapan.
Goldstein said he hopes that through the conference, women will lose their fear of coming to the gynecologist and will make routine visits a habit.
“Most women’s cancers are treatable when found early, particularly uterine and cervical,” he said.
The event is being hosted by the sisterhoods of Shaari Emeth, Temple Rodeph Torah in Manalapan, and Temple Shalom in Aberdeen.
“We have planned a day to empower women of all ages with the knowledge to take charge of their health,” said Debra Kirsch of Manalapan, who is cochairing the vent with Erica Katz of Marlboro and Linda Cannon of Jamesburg.
Each of the chairs, Kirsch said, is bringing a specific focus to the event. Katz is an art educator whose expertise is demonstrated in the flyer and handouts to be distributed at the event and whose education background helped structure the day so that the participants will leave with needed information.
Cannon is associated with Women of Reform Judaism and brought to the organizing group extensive experience running similar programs.
Kirsch is a registered dietitian involved in pharmaceutical research. She said she brought to the group a focus on medical research that helped guide the selection of speakers and topics.
Goldstein will discuss the prevention and early detection of gynecological cancers.
He also said he would like to see a really good screening tool for ovarian cancer developed. “It’s the most deadly because it is usually only found in the late stages,” he said.
He pointed to the recognition of HPV as a trigger for cervical cancer and the movement for testing for it, as the biggest shift in his 21 years in the field.
“Some women decide that it’s not that important to get tested. They come in and they haven’t been in the office in 15 years,” he told NJJN. “They are at the highest risk for particular cervical cancers. Education and routine visits are the most important way to reduce the risk.”