What Are The Different Types Of Gynecological Cancer?

Gynaecological cancer is an umbrella term used for all types of cancer occurring in or around a woman’s reproductive system and genitals. These include the cervix, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vulva, and vagina. 

While some screening tests are available for certain types of gynaecological cancer, there isn’t any proven screening method for others. This makes it even more critical for all the women out there to be informed about the potential signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancer and get to know their bodies very well, so they are able to tell if anything changes. 

Read the article further and get to know the different types of gynaecological cancers, along with their symptoms and preventive measures.

Types Of Gynecological Cancer

Here are six different types of gynaecological cancer:

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is the malignant tumour of the cervix, the lowermost part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Various strains of HPV (human papillomavirus), a sexually transmitted infection, play a crucial role in causing most cervical cancer. 

When exposed to the human papillomavirus, the body’s immune system keeps the virus from doing any harm. However, in some instances, the virus survives for several years, contributing to the process that causes some of the cervical cells to become cancer cells. 

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

You may not notice any signs of cervical cancer until the cancer progresses to advanced stages. They may include:

  • Pain during sex
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Longer or heavier menstrual cycles than usual
  • Bleeding between periods or after sex
  • Bleeding after menopause

Symptoms of advanced cervical cancer may include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Pain or swelling in the legs

How to prevent cervical cancer?

One of the simplest ways to prevent cervical cancer is getting screened frequently with a pap smear and/or HPV test. The screening detects precancerous cells so they could be treated before they turn into cancer. 

As already mentioned above, HPV infection causes most cervical cancer. The infection is highly preventable with vaccines such as Gardasil and Cervarix. Vaccination is one of the most effective before a person becomes sexually active. Both women and men can be vaccinated against HPV.

Here’re some other ways you can reduce your risk of HPV and cervical cancer:

  • Limit the number of partners with whom you engage in sex
  • Always use a condom or other contraception method during vaginal, oral, or anal sex

Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer is the cancer of the uterus or the womb, a pear-shaped organ where a baby develops. The uterus is lined with a specific tissue called the endometrium. When cancer develops in this lining, it is called endometrial cancer. There are two types of uterine cancer including endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer and accounts for more than 90% of cases.

What are the symptoms of uterine cancer?

Common symptoms of uterine cancer include:

  • Bleeding between periods or after menopause
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen
  • Watery or bloody discharge, which might have a foul smell
  • Difficulty urinating or pain when using the lavatory

How to prevent uterine cancer?

Various lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing uterine cancer, including maintaining a healthy body weight and regular exercising. 

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer starts in the ovaries. The female reproductive system comprises two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries, each about the size of an almond, produce eggs and the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer doesn’t always cause any symptoms, and when it does, it might appear vague or much like symptoms of other conditions. If you tend to experience one or more of the following signs and they worsen over time or don’t go away, consult your doctor.

Some common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Increased abdominal size
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Feeling full quickly after eating
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Urinary changes; needing to go more often or more urgently
  • Changes in bowel habits, including constipation

How to prevent ovarian cancer?

Certain risk factors of ovarian cancer are unavoidable. These include having a family history of ovarian cancer, colon cancer, or breast cancer, or a mutation in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2. You should talk to your healthcare specialist about monitoring your health and the best ways to minimize your risk. 

Obesity and smoking both elevate the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Have a healthy diet, get physically active, and find ways to quit smoking to keep ovarian cancer at bay. 

Also Read: Intimacy After Cancer- All Your Questions Answered

Fallopian Tube Cancer

Also called tubal cancer occurs in one or both the fallopian tubes, the tube-like structure that connects your uterus and ovaries. It is the rarest gynaecological cancer and most commonly affects women who have gone through menopause. 

What are the symptoms of fallopian tube cancer?

Usually, fallopian tube cancer doesn’t cause any symptoms. However, when it does, they may include the following:

  • Swelling of the lower abdomen without an increased weight gain anywhere else on the body, which doesn’t recover with a change in diet or physical activity
  • Pain in the pelvis or abdomen that doesn’t get away
  • A lump in the abdomen
  • Feeling like you cannot empty your bowel or bladder completely.
  • Feeling pressure on the bowel or bladder.
  • Abnormal bleeding or discharge from the vagina, specifically bleeding after menopause.

How to prevent fallopian tube cancer?

Ongoing inflammation or infection of the fallopian tubes is associated with a higher risk of fallopian tube cancer. In addition, untreated sexually transmitted infections could cause fallopian tube cancer, so you must have a sexual health check to look for any conditions regularly or with each sexual partner.

Vulvar Cancer

Also called vulvar cancer, it is a relatively rare type of Gynecological cancer that affects the vulva, the external genital organs that protect the female reproductive system. 

Vulvar cancer often forms as a lump or sore on the vulva that usually causes itching. Although vulvar cancer could occur at any age, it is most commonly found in older adults.

What are the symptoms of vulvar cancer?

You may not notice any symptoms in the early stages. Over time you might have:

  • A change in the colour of your vulva
  • Unusual bumps or growths that may be pink, red, or white and feel rough or thick
  • Thickened skin on your vulva
  • A change in how a mole looks
  • Pain, soreness, or burning
  • Pain when you pee
  • An open sore
  • Itching that doesn’t go away
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge

How to prevent vulvar cancer?

HPV can sometimes cause vulvar cancer, so it’s recommended that you get immunized against HPV. Smoking also raises the risk of developing vulvar cancer, so if you are an active smoker, it’s time to find some of the best ways to quit. 

Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal cancer is a rare gynaecological cancer that starts in the vagina, the muscular tube that links the uterus to the outer genitals. Many different types of cancer can spread to the vagina from somewhere else, but cancer that originates from here is rare. There are nearly 6,000 new cases each year in the United States.

What are the symptoms of vaginal cancer?

This gynaecological cancer usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. However, your healthcare provider may detect it during a routine exam or pap smear test.

If you have symptoms, they may include:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding 
  • Watery or bad-smelling discharge 
  • A lump in your vagina
  • Pain in your pelvis
  • Pain when peeing
  • Pain during sex
  • Constipation
  • Peeing more frequently than usual

How to prevent vaginal cancer?

The best way to prevent this gynaecological cancer is to avoid getting infected with HPV. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the Gardasil 9 vaccine to prevent various HPV-related ailments, including the seven most common types of HPV that cause cancer. The vaccine is for people aged between 9 and 45. Younger patients require fewer shots for complete protection.

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Natasha Patel

Natasha Patel is the senior writer for the women’s health edition at CheapMedicineShop.com. She worked as a primary care provider before joining the writer’s panel of the blog. She is also trained in routine obstetrics and continues to practice in Oklahoma, where she lives with her family.