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Gynecology and obstetrics (Chapters 52, 53, and 55) represents a large proportion of medical practice, and many large medical centers have hospitals dedicated entirely to this area.


Many infections of the female reproductive system are sexually transmitted (Chapter 54: Sexually Transmitted Infections). We decided to include sexually transmitted infections in this section, although they equally affect males. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is the most serious sexually transmitted infection at the present time, is discussed in Chapter 7: Deficiencies of the Host Response.


Neoplasms are important diseases of the female reproductive system. The recognition of epithelial dysplasia of the cervix by cervical smears was the beginning of the use of cytology in the detection of cancer (see Chapter 16: Disorders of Cellular Growth, Differentiation, & Maturation). Cancer of the breast (Chapter 56: The Breast), cervix and endometrium (Chapter 53: The Uterus, Vagina, & Vulva), and ovaries (Chapter 52: The Ovaries & Uterine Tubes) are all common; it is estimated that one of approximately every nine women in the United States will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Early detection of carcinoma of the cervix by cervical smears and breast cancer by mammography represent two major cancer screening programs in the United States.

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