Any cancer that develops in a woman’s reproductive organs is referred to as gynecologic cancer. There are five types of cancer that affect a woman’s reproductive organs: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar. They are collectively referred to as gynecologic cancers. The sixth type of gynecologic cancer is fallopian tube cancer, which is extremely rare.
Different gynecologic cancers arise from different locations in the pelvis of a woman, which is below the stomach and in between the hip bones. Gynecologic cancers are all unique, with specific signs and symptoms, distinct risk factors and different prevention strategies. Women of all ages are at risk for gynecologic cancers. Early detection of gynecologic cancer is the key to the most successful treatment.
Types of Gynecologic cancer
- Cervical cancer:
Cervical cancer originates in the cervix, which is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (womb).
Symptoms of cervical cancer:
- Vaginal discharge
- Vaginal odour
- There is bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Cervical cancer can be treated with radical surgery alone if detected early, but those detected later require a combination of chemo and radiation therapy.
Cervical cancers, as well as many other types of gynaecological cancers, can be prevented by vaccinating girls against HPV infection before they become sexually active.
- Ovarian cancer:
Ovarian cancer develops in the ovaries, which are found on either side of the uterus. There are three subtypes – epithelial ovarian cancer, germ cell cancer, and stromal cell cancer.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer:
- Bloating, both extreme and sudden.
- Appetite loss or difficulty eating.
- Unexplained weight loss
- More frequent or urgent urination.
- Pelvic or abdominal pain and discomfort.
One thing to keep in mind concerning epithelial ovarian cancers is that they are aggressive and have a tendency for recurrence in advanced stages. In such circumstances, surgery or chemotherapy are used to treat the patient.
- Uterine cancer:
Uterine cancer occurs in the uterus, a pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvis where the baby develops during pregnancy. It is one of the most common types of gynecologic cancers. Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and the use of oestrogen without progesterone are all factors that enhance the chance of uterine cancer, however, it can happen to anyone.
Symptoms of uterine cancer:
- You may experience vaginal bleeding or spotting after menopause.
- Lower abdominal pain that has lasted longer than two weeks.
- Bleeding in between periods is a common occurrence.
- There is pain during sexual intercourse.
There are three types of uterine cancers – Endometrial cancer, uterine sarcomas, and endometrial stromal tumours. In most cases, endometrial cancer is detected early and treated with laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery. The full treatment takes only a couple of days in the hospital. However, a small percentage of endometrial cancer patients (approximately 10-15%) may require additional treatment, such as radiotherapy or a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
- Vaginal Cancer:
The vagina, which is the hollow, tube-like passage between the bottom of the uterus and the outside of the body, is where vaginal cancer originates. In most cases, HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infection causes the cancer in women over 50 years of age.
Symptoms of vaginal cancer:
- Presence of a visible mass.
- Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge.
- Pain during and after sexual intercourse.
Many cases of vaginal cancer can be treated with radical surgery, similar to vulvar cancer, while others may require radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
- Vulvar cancer:
Vulvar cancer develops in the vulva, which is the outermost region of the female genital organs. It is more common in elderly women and is easily recognized.
Symptoms of vulvar cancer:
- Bumpy red, pink, or white lumps with a warty-like surface.
- While urinating, you may experience pain or a burning sensation.
- Bleeding that isn’t related to menstruation.
- There are white and rough patches in the area.
- An open sore or ulcer that persists.
It is a relatively curable type of gynaecological cancer.