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Cancers We Treat

Gynecologic Cancer

What are gynecological cancers? Baptist Cancer Center provides information about gynecological cancers, which affect the female reproductive organs.

Gynecologic Cancer Explained

Gynecologic cancer is the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells originating in the female reproductive organs, including the cervix, Fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, vagina and vulva.

Like other parts of the body, the organs of the reproductive system are made up of many types of cells. Cells divide in an orderly, controlled way to produce more cells when they are needed in the body. When cells divide in an abnormal, uncontrolled way, they can form a tumor.

Gynecologic cancer affects many women, with about 80,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year. About half of those cases are uterine cancer. Ovarian cancer, with more than 22,000 new cases estimated per year, is the second most common gynecologic cancer, and it accounts for more than 16,000 deaths annually.

Gynecologic cancer is a serious disease, but in the majority of cases it can be treated and cured. Our gynecological cancer physicians and specialists are dedicated to fighting cancer with you as a team and providing you with the most comprehensive care possible.

Treatment Options

Treatment depends on the type of gynecological cancer and what stage it is in. Local treatments, which focus only on the affected part of the body, include surgery and radiation therapy. Other therapies are designed to reach cancer cells throughout the body using drugs, often referred to as systemic therapy, and can include chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, hormone therapy and immunotherapy.

Types of Gynecological Cancer

There are five main types of gynecological cancer:

Ovarian cancer

Cancer that begins in the ovaries, the female organs that produce eggs, and can spread to other parts of the abdomen. Surgery and chemotherapy are the most common treatments.

Uterine (endometrial) cancer

Uterine cancer usually begins in the endometrium, the layer of cells that form the lining of the uterus. Surgery to remove the uterus is the most common treatment. Advanced cases may also require chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer usually occurs as a malignant tumor in the cervix, the small canal that connects the uterus to the vagina. Treatments commonly include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Vulvar cancer

Vulvar cancer occurs in any part of the external female genitals, most commonly in the labia minora and labia majora, as well as the perineum, the area between the vagina and anus. Surgery to remove the cancer is the most common treatment.

Vaginal cancer

Vaginal cancer occurs in the vagina, or birth canal. Most vaginal cancers begin in another part of the body and spread to the vagina. Treatment includes surgery to remove the cancer growth, radiation and chemotherapy.

Learn the Symptoms and Causes

Recognizing the signs of gynecological cancer allows for timely intervention, potentially increasing the chances of successful treatment and improving your quality of life.

What are gynecological cancer causes and risk factors?

In the U.S., approximately 100,000 women are diagnosed with gynecological cancer each year. While all women are at risk for developing gynecological cancer, some risk factors increase the likelihood:

  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Age
  • HPV infection

Regular pap tests, a healthy diet and exercise, genetic testing and getting the HPV vaccine are important to preventing gynecological cancer.

What are the symptoms of gynecological cancer?

Common symptoms of gynecological cancer are often the same for other, more benign conditions. If you begin to experience the following symptoms, it is important not to be alarmed and seeto see your gynecologist. Symptoms of gynecological cancer can include:

  • Bleeding
  • Abnormal discharge
  • Abdominal pain or bloating
  • Pelvic pain
  • Frequent urination and constipation
  • Itching, burning or tenderness of the vulva
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