When the cells in a woman’s reproductive system grow out of control, it is called gynaecologic cancer. There are 6 types of cancers that affect a woman’s reproductive system, of these 5 are most common:
Ovary: ovaries are on each side of the uterus and cancer that starts here is called ovarian cancer
Cervix: the lower part of the uterus is called the cervix and the cancer is called cervical cancer
Uterus: commonly called as the womb, the pear-shaped organ gets affected by uterine cancer or endometrial cancer.
Vulva: vulvar cancer is very common and affects the external genital organs of the female
Vagina: is called vaginal cancer and is very common
Fallopian tube: is called fallopian tube cancer and is very rare. Most peritoneal cancers originate from the fallopian tube.
Common Symptoms for Gynaecologic Cancer
The symptoms/signs will differ from each woman to woman. You must be aware of the changes and if the symptoms last for more than two weeks, you must consult your gynecologist.
- Vaginal bleeding or abnormal discharge after menopause
- Heavier and bleeding for longer time if menopause has not set in
- Abdominal bloating, back pain, abdominal pain, feeling of being full
- pain in the pelvic region
- Constipation, urge to urinate frequently
- Change of color of the vulva, burning , itching, pain, rash is typical of vulvar cancer
Prevention and Screening
The risk of gynecologic cancer increases with age.
HPV vaccine is recommended in two doses for women between the age of 11 years to 26 years.
Screening is a method of searching for the precancer before the symptoms appear. Usually two screening tests are done to check for cancer in women:
- PAP test: is carried out to look for pre cancer or abnormal cell growth in the cervix. If these are identified and treated timely, they usually do not become cervical cancer
- HPV test: is carried out to find the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infection in women above 30 years of age