Gynecologic Cancers

Gynecologic cancer is any cancer that starts in the female reproductive organs.

There are different types of Gynecologic cancer, and each type has different risk factors and signs or symptoms. All women are at risk for developing gynecologic cancer. However, signs or symptoms are not the same for everyone. In fact, some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.

There are things you can do to lower your risk. Know your family health history, pay attention to changes in your body and schedule routine health screenings. Talk to your doctor if something doesn't feel or look right. Find cancer early before it has a chance to spread. The earlier a cancer is found, the easier it is to treat and potentially cure.

Gynecologic cancer treatments can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. Sometimes, a combination of these treatments will need to be used. Treatment options vary depending on the type and stage of cancer being treated.

Learn more about the Providence Gynecologic Oncology Program

Gynecologic Cancer - know what you can do

GynecologicCancer Get the facts, risk factors, symptoms and screening options.

Download a flyer to learn more

English | Chinese | Korean | Russian | Spanish | Vietnamese

Five main types of gynecologic cancer:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Ovarian cancer / Fallopian tube cancer
  • Uterine cancer / Endometrial cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar cancer

In the U.S., the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs is uterine cancer, or sometimes called endometrial cancer. This cancer starts in the cells of the inner lining of the uterus.

Learn more:

Different gynecologic cancers have different risk factors. It is important to know your risk and learn about what you can do.

Know your risk

Family history, obesity, age, or Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection are important risk factors for certain gynecologic cancers.

If you have a family history of cancer, or other risk factors, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help you determine what tests and types of screening you should get. Depending on your family history, you may be a candidate for genetic counseling and testing. The results from this testing can have implications for your family members as well.

Risk reduction
HPV vaccine
  • HPV, a common sexually transmitted disease, can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers as well as other cancers outside of the gynecologic tract.
  • The HPV vaccine series protect against the types of HPV infection most likely to cause cervical cancer. The vaccine series is recommended between ages 11 to 12 years but can be given between ages 9 to 26 years and can be given in certain circumstances up to age 45 years.
Screening tests
  • Only cervical cancer has a screening test that can find cancer or precancer early.
  • Routine pelvic exam and a Pap test (or Pap smear) is recommended for all women starting at age 21. A Pap test is the most effective screening test for cervical cancer. It works by detecting early cell changes on the cervix from the HPV virus, precancers, and even early cancer.
  • The Pap test is often combined with HPV testing starting at age 30. HPV test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes that might become cervical cancer.
Genetic counseling and testing

Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of gynecologic cancer. They may refer you to a genetic counselor for further testing.

Healthy diet and lifestyle

A healthy diet and lifestyle may significantly help lower your cancer risk.

Learn more:

Common signs or symptoms of gynecologic cancers
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge including heavier periods, longer periods, irregular bleeding, bleeding between periods, bleeding after intercourse, or bleeding after going through menopause
  • A change in your normal vaginal discharge
  • Feeling full too quickly or difficulty eating and feeling bloated
  • Pelvic pain or pressure
  • Itching or burning of the vulva
  • Pain in the back or stomach
  • Frequent urination
  • Changes in your stool or bowel habits, including constipation

Talk to your doctor if you notice any signs or symptoms that last for two weeks or longer and are not normal for you.

Learn more:

Source: CDC & The American Cancer Society