Types of Gynecological Cancer
Gynecological cancers are those that develop in a woman’s reproductive tract. Cervical cancer is only one type of gynecological cancer. Other types include;
- Cervical cancer – vast majority of cases of cervical cancer are linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The majority of women with an HPV infection will not develop cervical cancer, but regular screening is essential.
- Ovarian cancer – the fifth most common type of cancer among women. There are three main types of ovarian cancer, and they differ based on the location of the cancer cells.
- Uterine cancer – any woman can develop uterine cancer but it is most commonly diagnosed in women who have gone through menopause.
- Vaginal cancer – a rare cancer that starts inside the vagina. It is most commonly diagnosed in women over 60 years old.
- Vulvar cancer – a rare cancer that affects the external female sex organs. It most commonly starts on the inner edges of the two pairs of lips of the vulva, the inner and outer labia.
Symptoms vary depending on the organ that’s involved and should always be evaluated by the doctor.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding and discharge can occur with any gynecologic cancer. Sometimes, pelvic pain can occur with uterine and ovarian cancer. Similarly, bloating, constipation and an increased need to urinate can occur with ovarian cancer but not all patients will have those symptoms.
Vulvar cancer causes itching and soreness, along with a visible lesion. Doctors might perform a biopsy of the lesion, in which they take a sample and observe it under a microscope to look for abnormal cells.
So far, only cervical cancer has a routine screening test (PAP Smear). Because symptoms of early-stage gynecologic cancers are often vague and can also be caused by other, less serious conditions.
Cancer treatments that use medications are an option for some women with gynecologic cancer, depending on the type and stage of the cancer.
Medications Treatments include;
- Chemotherapy – uses drugs usually injected into a vein or given by mouth, to kill cancer cells
- Immunotherapy – involves stimulation of the immune system to help the body better fight gynecologic cancer
- Hormone therapy – uses hormones to treat and prevent recurrences of some types of gynecologic cancers
- Intraperitoneal chemotherapy – an intricate and unique treatment that delivers chemotherapy drugs directly into the abdominal cavity through a catheter.
Surgical Cancer Treatments
- Debulking surgery – removes as much of the tumor as possible, typically in preparation for chemotherapy so there will be less tumor to treat
- Total hysterectomy – removes the uterus and the cervix
- Radical hysterectomy – removes the uterus, cervix, and part of the vagina; might also remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or nearby lymph nodes
- Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – removes one ovary and one fallopian tube
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – removes both ovaries and both fallopian tubes
- Omentectomy – removes the omentum(a fat pad within the abdominal cavity)
- Lymph node removal – removes some or all lymph nodes affected by cancer
Radiation Therapy – an essential treatment for most gynecologic cancers, whether it’s used as a primary/curative treatment or postoperatively, an adjuvant therapy
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