Gynecologic Cancers - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Gynecologic Cancers

The American Cancer Society estimates that over 100,000 gynecologic cancers will be diagnosed in 2017. Gynecologic cancers affect women’s reproductive organs and fall into the following four major categories.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer affects the tissues of the cervix, the narrow lower end of the uterus that leads from the uterus to the vagina.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Symptoms of cervical cancer are often mild and may be overlooked. That’s why regular screening tests, such as the Pap smear, are important.

Women with precancerous cells in their cervix usually have no symptoms. A woman often does not have any symptoms until the cells turn into cancer and then grow and invade the deepest parts of the cervix or other pelvic organs. That’s why it’s important to have a regular Pap test. Cervical cancer is easier to treat in its early stages. The Pap test checks for cells that are cancer or precancer.

Symptoms of cervical cancer are often like other conditions that aren’t cancer, and may include:

  • Vaginal Discharge: You may have a watery or unusual discharge.
  • Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding: Your may have bleeding between your periods or after sex. Blood flow during your period may be heavier and last longer than usual. Or you may have bleeding after menopause.
  • Pain: You may have pain during sex or pain in the pelvic area not from sex or other activities.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer affects the ovaries, a pair of organs located in the pelvis that produce eggs and female hormones.

Many types of tumors can start growing in the ovaries. Some are benign. This means that they’re not cancer. Benign tumors don’t spread. They can usually be treated by removing one ovary or part of the ovary. Ovarian cancer, however, is a malignant (cancerous) tumor. If a cancerous tumor isn’t treated, it can grow and spread to other parts of your body.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer often doesn’t cause any symptoms until after it’s spread outside the ovary. Even then, it often causes vague symptoms. These are similar to those of many other more common diseases. These symptoms can include the following:

  • Indigestion, heartburn, nausea, or gas
  • Belly swelling or discomfort
  • Pelvic pain or cramping
  • Bloating or a sense of fullness, especially after eating
  • Backache
  • Painful, frequent, or burning during urination with no infection
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss or gain
  • Vaginal bleeding or irregular periods
  • Pain during intercourse

Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the endometrium, the lining of the uterus.

Symptoms of Uterine Cancer

The main symptom is unusual vaginal bleeding. This occurs in up to 90% of women with endometrial cancer. For most women, abnormal vaginal bleeding is the only symptom they have. But other symptoms may include:

  • Non-bloody vaginal discharge
  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain, pressure, or a lump in the pelvic area or lower belly (lower abdomen)
  • Losing weight without trying

Vaginal and Vulvar Cancers

Vaginal and vulvar cancers affect the vagina, or birth canal, and the vulva, the outer part of the vagina.

Symptoms of Vaginal Cancer

There are often no symptoms in the early stages of vaginal cancer, before cancer has spread. Most cases of this rare cancer are diagnosed in the early stages. Vaginal cancer in later stages may cause symptoms such as:

  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Bleeding that's not related to menstrual periods
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • A lump or growth you can feel
  • Vaginal bleeding after  sex
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain when urinating
  • Constipation
  • Constant pain in the pelvis

Symptoms of Vulvar Cancer

You can have vulvar cancer without having any symptoms. But some women do have symptoms. These are some symptoms of the most common type of vulvar cancer, squamous cell carcinoma:

  • Vulvar itching that does not get better
  • A change in skin color around your vulva. Your skin may become redder, lighter, or darker in color than the surrounding skin.
  • A change in the feel of your skin around your vulva. Your skin may feel thicker, scalier, rougher, or bumpier than surrounding skin.
  • Wart-like bump or bumps, cauliflower-like growths, or ulcers or sores on the vulva that last for more than a month
  • Pain when urinating
  • Burning or bleeding and discharge that's not related to your menstrual cycle
  • Enlarged lymph glands in your groin

Related Locations

Stay Connected

Follow us on TwitterWith a focus on women’s health, we provide tools to help you achieve wellness of the mind, body and soul. Follow us on Twitter @CKHS4Women