What is Gynecologic Cancer & Its Types
- Published on August 29, 2022
What is gynecologic cancer?
Cancer can be simply explained as an uncontrolled division of cells in the body which can be fatal. This type of growth can begin in any part of your body.
Gynecologic cancer is a disease that develops in the reproductive organs of a woman, internal as well as external. Uterus cancer, ovarian cancer, and cancers of external genital organs all are included in the term gynecologic cancer.
The female reproductive system consists of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, vagina, and vulva. Cancer in women can affect any part of the reproductive system, and the symptoms are experienced according to the location of cancer. These cancers are one of the major causes of death in women in India and worldwide.
Of all the types, cervical and ovarian cancers are seen most frequently.
Types of gynecologic cancer
Gynecologic cancer is classified as per the reproductive organ it arises from. Five types of cancers are seen in the female reproductive system. These are as follows:
1. Cervical cancer
Cervix is situated at the lower part of the uterus and is long and narrow. It opens into the vagina. Cancer growing in this part is called cervical cancer. This is the only gynecologic cancer that has a screening test.
Human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease, is considered the cause of almost every cervical cancer. The HPV infection causes cellular changes in the cervix, leading to abnormal cell growth, called dysplasia which is a precancerous stage.
If caught early, this type of gynecologic cancer is treatable.
Some of the cervical cancer symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge, bleeding after sexual intercourse, painful intercourse, etc. Consult your gynecologic doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
2. Uterine cancer
The uterus is a pear-shaped reproductive organ in the female body. Gynecologic cancer developing in the uterus is called uterine cancer.
It can begin in the inner lining of the uterus called the endometrium and is known as endometrial cancer, which is more common.
Sometimes, cancer develops in the muscle layers of the uterus and is known as uterine sarcoma, but it is rare gynecologic cancer.
Being obese is an important cause of uterine cancer. Age, having a family member with uterine cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, never having children, medicines used for breast cancer, etc., are some of the risk factors that predispose you to uterine cancer.
Uterine cancer symptoms include vaginal bleeding after menopause, painful intercourse, difficulty passing urine, pain in the abdomen, etc. However, these symptoms can be due to some other cause also. You need to see your gynecologic doctor to understand the reason for these symptoms.
3. Ovarian cancer
Ovaries are the two small oval organs that sit on either side of the uterus and produce eggs. Ovarian cancer can develop in one or both ovaries.
The likelihood of developing this gynecologic cancer increases with age. Those with one or more family members having ovarian or breast cancer, obese women, smokers, and those who never had children are more prone to develop ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer symptoms are usually vague or resemble many other conditions. You can have bloating, pain in the lower abdomen, feeling full quickly after food intake, constipation, unexplained weight gain or weight loss, etc. But if these symptoms are unusual and do not seem to go away, you must see some gynaecological specialists to get it diagnosed.
4. Vaginal cancer
Vaginal cancer is seen beginning in the vaginal tissues. A rare type of gynecologic cancer, it is typically seen in older women.
The most common cause of vaginal cancer is being infected with human papillomavirus. Age and weak immune system are other risk factors.
People with vaginal cancer can experience foul-smelling vaginal discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding, painful intercourse, or pain after sexual intercourse. Consult your gynecologic doctor to diagnose the condition if you have these symptoms.
5. Cancer of the vulva
This type of gynecologic cancer is seen developing on the external genital organs and is rare as compared to the above three types. Also called vulvar cancer, it is commonly seen after menopause in women but can occur at any age.
Human papillomavirus, age, smoking, weak immunity, etc., are some risk factors that increase your chances of getting this gynecologic cancer.
Symptoms of cancer of the vulva include a lump on or around the vulva, itching in the vulva, burning or pain in the vulva, enlarged lymph nodes in the groin region, and any mole that has changed in shape or colour, etc. If you are experiencing such symptoms, you need to consult gynaecological specialists.
Gynecologic cancer treatment
The primary goal of gynecologic cancer treatment is the complete removal of cancer or shrinking it. The treatment modalities involve surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
The treatment plan is derived as per the individual patient’s disease condition, the type of gynecologic cancer one suffers from, and its stage.
Some types require surgery and chemotherapy, some need surgery and radiation, while some types of gynecologic cancers need all three modes.
Considered the most beneficial treatment option for certain gynecologic cancer, surgery can be minimally invasive surgery, gynecologic robotic surgery, partial removal of the female reproductive system or complete removal, and other options.
Chemotherapy involves administering medicines that kill the tumour inside the body. These medicines are either injected inside the body or given by mouth by gynaecological specialists to destroy the cancer cells in your body.
Radiation therapy involves x-ray or other beams to destroy uncontrollably growing cancer cells. It can be used as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with other modes of treatment for gynecologic cancer.
Gynecologic cancer has become quite common, especially cervical and ovarian cancer. If you think you are experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned above, you must visit Birla IVF & Fertility Centre, where you will get comprehensive cancer care. The gynecological specialists here are internationally and nationally acclaimed experts who deliver high-quality patient care.
Book your appointment at Birla IVF & Fertility, the Clinic with global standards of healthcare infrastructure, to get expert care.
1. Which is the most curable gynecologic cancer?
Ans: The most curable gynecologic cancer is endometrial cancer arising out of the inner lining of the uterus. This type of cancer is usually seen after the age of 55.
2. What are the 5 gynecological cancers?
Ans: The 5 gynecologic cancers are cervical cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulval cancer.
3. What are the symptoms of gynecological cancer?
Ans: Some common symptoms of gynecologic cancer are abnormal vaginal bleeding, painful intercourse, lower abdominal pain and fullness, unexplained weight loss, a lump in the genital area, and swollen lymph nodes in the groin.
4. What is the most common gynecological cancer?
Ans: The most common gynecologic cancers are cervical and ovarian cancer. Cervical cancer develops in the cervix of the uterus while ovarian cancer develops in the ovaries. The most common cause of cervical cancer is HPV, a sexually transmitted disease.
Dr Prof (Col) Pankaj Talwar, VSM
Director, Medical Services
Dr Pankaj Talwar is one of the most renowned Infertility treatment specialists in India. He brings with him over 29 years of experience with one of the highest success rates in the country across 21,000+ IVF cycles. He is one of the very few gynaecologists who is also a trained embryologist. Dr Pankaj is the Sr Vice President of the Indian Fertility Society and Founder Secretary of Fertility Preservation Society of India. His focus areas include managing failed IVF cycles, managing recurrent implantation failure, Onco- Fertility, Andrology, Sperm function test, Ovarian cortex freezing and Clinical embryology.
Over 32 years of experience
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