The Foundation for Women’s Cancer understands the importance of bringing awareness to all gynecologic cancers and declared September as Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month. With a goal of reaching more and more people to increase awareness for women’s health care, Comprehensive Cancer Centers, is a strong advocate for increased awareness as it leads to early diagnosis, and early diagnosis leads to improved treatment outcomes.
The purpose of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month is to bring awareness to all gynecologic cancers, which include cervical, ovarian, uterine/endometrial, vaginal and vulvar cancer. It’s critical that women become well versed in these cancers along with their symptoms, risk factors for prevention and early detection, as every five minutes a woman will be diagnoses with one of them, and more than 33,000 women will die from a gynecologic cancer this year.
The following are some facts and information about gynecological cancers:
Cervical Cancer Overview
Cervical Cancer occurs when cells in an area of the body grow abnormally. Cervical cancer is a cancer that begins in the cervix, the part of the uterus or womb that opens into the vagina. It is the part of the uterus that dilates and opens fully to allow a baby to pass into the birth canal. The normal cervix has two main types of cells: squamous (or flat) cells, which protect the outside of the cervix, and glandular cells which are mostly inside the cervix, and produce the fluid and mucus commonly seen during ovulation.
Ovarian Cancer Facts
Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common and accounts for 85–89 percent of ovarian cancers. It forms on the surface of the ovary in the epithelial cells or from the fallopian tube. It ranks fourth in cancer deaths among women and causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
Uterine/Endometrial Cancer Facts
Cancer occurs when cells in an area of the body grow abnormally. Endometrial cancer is cancer of the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium). The uterus (or womb) is where a baby grows during pregnancy. The fallopian tubes and ovaries are on both sides of the uterus. The cervix is the mouth of the uterus (or womb) that connects it to the vagina. These reproductive organs are located in the pelvis, close to the bladder and rectum.
The endometrium is the inside lining of the uterus that grows each month during the childbearing years. It does this so that it will be ready to support an embryo if a woman becomes pregnant. If pregnancy does not occur, the endometrium is shed during the menstrual period.
Vaginal Cancer Facts
Vaginal cancer begins in the vagina, the muscular tube, also called the birth canal that connects the outer genitalia to the uterus. Most of these cancers are in the lining (squamous epthelilum) of the vagina and usually affect between women 50-70 years old. Vaginal cancer is one of the rarest of gynecologic cancers.
Because many vaginal cancers are associated with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18, vaginal cancer can be prevented by the vaccinations advocated for the prevention of cervical cancer.
Vulvar Cancer Facts
Cancer of the vulva is a rare tumor with the most recent cancer statistics reporting that approximately 5,000 women in the U.S. are afflicted annually. The vulva includes the inner and outer lips of the vagina, the clitoris, the opening of the vagina and its glands.
Vulvar cancer is highly curable if detected at an early stage; however, treatment can have significant adverse effects on body image, sexual function, as well as bladder and rectal function. Lower extremity lymphedema, a form of chronic swelling which results from the disruption of lymphatic drainage in the groin, is a long-term complication and is, for the most part, irreversible.
Protection from infection with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), including HPV vaccination, reduces the risk of vulvar cancer. Examination of the vulva for changes by a woman at home or by her gynecologist during her annual pelvic examination can lead to the detection of pre-invasive disease or early vulvar cancer. Suspicious or unexplained changes on the vulva should be biopsied.
Gynecological Cancer Evaluation and Diagnosis
When a woman experiences concerning symptoms for gynecological cancer, the team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers recommends a pelvic exam (including a rectovaginal exam) and a general physical should be performed. If the exam is abnormal, the woman might be advised to undergo an HPV test, a colposcopy (observing the cervix through a magnifying scope) and a biopsy, depending on the results of the colposcopy.
If gynecological cancer is detected, treatments can include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. The treatment course prescribed will be done collaboratively with your Comprehensive Cancer oncologist, your primary physician, and any other doctors currently managing your care.
Comprehensive Cancer Centers Treats Gynecological Cancers
Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options including: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and clinical research for the treatment of gynecological cancers. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.
The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.