Gynaecological Cancer

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Gynaecological Cancer

Women and her daughtersThis section provides information for women, their partners and families about gynaecological cancers.

What are gynaecological cancers?

‘Gynaecological cancer’ refers to the five cancers that start in a woman’s reproductive system - click on the links for information about each type of gynaecological cancer:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulval cancer
  • Womb cancer (also known as endometrial or uterine cancer)

    Gynaecological cancer and the menopause

    Some women are affected by gynaecological cancers before the menopause. Menopause does not cause cancer, but your risk of developing cancer does increase as you get older.

    Coping with a cancer diagnosis

    Being diagnosed with cancer, and the treatment that follows, can be a very difficult thing to cope with. The support of family, friends, healthcare professionals and other people who have had a similar experience can be hugely helpful during this time.

    As well as information about diagnosis, treatment and management of gynaecological cancers, some of the organisations linked to in this section of the site include information about how you can access emotional support.

    Preventing gynaecological cancers

    Leading a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent cancers. During and after menopause is no different. The following measures will help you reduce your risk of cancer:

    • Take part in the cervical and breast screening programmes provided by the NHS
    • Exercise
    • Eat a healthy diet
    • Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke
    • Maintain a healthy body weight

    Cervical Cancer

    Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.

    Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer.

    When exposed to HPV, the body's immune system typically prevents the virus from doing harm. In a small percentage of people, however, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cervical cells to become cancer cells.

    You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by having screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV infection.

    Treatments

    Gyno cancer ovarian cancer treatment is mainly surgery that is complete removal of uterus, ovaries lymph nodes and chemotherapy

    Cervical cancer early treatment of Cervical cancer is Hysterectomy that is complete removal of ovary, uterus, lymphnodes and Radiotherapy

    Uterus-Cancer

    The uterus is a hollow organ in females located in the pelvis, commonly called the womb. The uterus functions to support fetal development until birth. The uterus is shaped like an upside-down pear; the top is the fundus, the middle is the corpus, and bottom is the cervix; the inner layer of the uterus is the endometrium, and the outer layer is muscle (myometrium).

    Uterine cancer is the abnormal (malignant) growth of any cells that comprise uterine tissue. The buildup of cancer cells may form a mass (malignant tumor). Non-cancer cells that form a mass are termed benign tumors.

    Although the exact causes of uterine cancers are not known, risk factors include women with endometrial overgrowth (hyperplasia), obesity, women who have never had children, menses beginning before age 12, menopause after age 55, estrogen therapy, taking tamoxifen, radiation to the pelvis, family history of uterine cancer, and Lynch syndrome (most commonly seen as a form of inherited colorectal cancer).

    Common signs and symptoms of uterine cancer are

    • abnormal vaginal bleeding (most common symptom),
    • vaginal discharge,
    • pain with urination and/or sex, and
    • pelvic pains.

    Uterine cancer is diagnosed usually with a pelvic exam, Pap test, ultrasound, and biopsy. Occasionally, CT or MRI may be done to help confirm the diagnosis.

    Ovarian Cancer

    Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. The female reproductive system contains two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the size of an almond — produce eggs (ova) as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat. Early-stage ovarian cancer, in which the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully. Surgery and chemotherapy are generally used to treat ovarian cancer.

    Symptoms
    • Female reproductive organs
    • Female reproductive systemOpen pop-up dialog box
    • Early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms. Advanced-stage ovarian cancer may cause few and nonspecific symptoms that are often mistaken for more common benign conditions.
    Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
    • Abdominal bloating or swelling
    • Quickly feeling full when eating
    • Weight loss
    • Discomfort in the pelvis area
    • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
    • A frequent need to urinate

    Types of surgery

    Total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy

    Most women with ovarian cancer will have an operation to remove the uterus and cervix, along with both fallopian tubes and ovaries. Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy

    If the cancer is found early and it is only in one ovary, some young women who still wish to have children may have only one ovary and fallopian tube removed.

    Omentectomy

    The omentum is a sheet of fatty tissue attached to the stomach and bowel. It hangs down in front of the intestines. Ovarian cancer often spreads to the omentum and it may need to be removed.

    Lymphadenectomy

    The pelvis contains large groups of lymph nodes. Cancer cells can spread from your ovaries to nearby lymph nodes. Your doctor may suggest removing some in a lymphadenectomy (also called lymph node dissection).

    Colectomy

    If cancer spreads to the bowel, some of the bowel may be removed. A new opening called a stoma may be created (colostomy or ileostomy). This is usually temporary.

    Removal of other organs

    Ovarian cancer can spread to many organs in the abdomen. In some cases, parts of the liver, diaphragm, bladder and spleen may be removed if it is safe to do.

    Surgery for ovarian cancer is complex. To ensure the best result, it is recommended that you are treated by a gynaecological oncologist at a specialist centre for gynaecological cancer. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for information about specialist centres in your area or see Understanding Surgery.

    All tissue and fluids removed during surgery are examined for cancer cells by a pathologist. The results will help confirm the type of ovarian cancer you have, if it has spread (metastasised), and its stage. It may not be possible to remove all the cancerous tissue. Surgery is often followed by chemotherapy, which will shrink or destroy any remaining cancer cells.