According to the NCI, every 6 minutes, a woman in the United States is diagnosed with gynecologic cancer, including cervical, endometrial, ovarian, peritoneal, tubal, vaginal and vulvar cancers.
Five main types of cancer affect a woman’s reproductive organs: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar. As a group, they are referred to as gynecologic cancer.
Gynecologic cancer is any cancer that starts in a woman’s reproductive organs. Each gynecologic cancer is unique, with different signs and symptoms, different risk factors, and different prevention strategies. All women are at risk for gynecologic cancers, and risk increases with age. When gynecologic cancers are found early, treatment is most effective.
The human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex, is the main cause of cervical cancer and also causes many vaginal and vulvar cancers. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives. Keep in mind, that although many women will develop an HPV infection at some point in their lives, few will get cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can be discovered with a Pap test.
Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system; but when ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, treatment is most effective.
Women should consult their physician if they experience pressure or fullness in the pelvis, abdominal bloating, or changes in bowel and bladder patterns that continue and/or worsen.
Of the cancers affecting the uterus, 95% occur in the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus. This is called endometrial cancer. Sarcoma, which might affect the muscle cells of uterus, is another type of uterine cancer.
Symptoms of Uterine Cancer
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, which is the most important symptom
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Watery or bloody flow from the vagina
- Pelvic pain and pressure
Vaginal and Vulvar Cancers
Vaginal and vulvar cancers are very rare. Although all women are at risk for these cancers, very few will develop them. In 2005, vaginal cancer accounted for only 1% to 2% of all gynecologic cancers, and vulvar cancer accounted for 5%..
Gynecologic Oncology involves cancers of the reproductive organs, including ovarian, cervical, and uterine disease. Geisinger’s multidisciplinary team of experts is dedicated solely to helping you fight these conditions with the most precise, targeted approach.
At the same time, our fellowship-trained specialists understand the personal, private nature of your care. We work as part of the cancer team, including pathologists, gynecologic surgeons, radiologists and radiation oncologists, certified chemotherapy nurses, counselors, and your referring physician.
Our expertise and leading edge services enable us to participate in clinical cancer trials from places like the Mayo Clinic and The National Institutes of Health. These trials provide additional alternatives that are not available at most community hospitals.
You are at the center of every decision. And the first choice you should make is to consult with a Geisinger gynecologic oncologist. Together, we fight for you, for your loved ones, for your lifetime.
frequently asked questions
What Is a Colposcopy?
A colposcopy is large, electric microscope used to view the cervix. Because the Pap smear is a screening tool and not a diagnostic tool, your gynecologist may want to take a closer look at your cervix to determine the cause of an abnormal Pap smear result. A colposcopy is a simple and painless procedure performed in a gynecologist’s office. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Although you might think an abnormal Pap smear means you have cervical cancer, the fact is that the majority of abnormal Pap smears are not caused by cervical cancer, but rather are the result of inflammation or a vaginal infection.
Below are links to National Gynecological Cancer websites:
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