The Five Types of Gynecological Cancer

There are five different types of gynecological cancer. In this article, we'll cover the signs and symptoms of each.
The Five Types of Gynecological Cancer
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

When we talk about gynecological cancer, we’re referring to five types of illnesses associated with the cervix, ovaries, uterus, vagina, and vulva.

Each year, thousands of women around the world are diagnosed with some type of cancer related to the reproductive organs. Although modern medicine advances every day with better treatments, prevention saves the most lives.

Today, we’d like to encourage you to become familiar with the following information and never forget to get regular gynecologist checkups. The reason? There are many asymptomatic diseases, hence the importance of undergoing tests that are mostly painless. They’re worth it!

Gynecological cancer awareness

A pregnant woman.

There will never be a way to know 100% if you’re going to develop gynecological cancer. Genetics often play a role in determining your predisposition, but every person is unique and only you know when something isn’t right with your body.

Prevention saves lives and makes treatments more effective in the majority of cases. However, even if you’re young with no family history of cancer, you should still make an appointment with your gynecologist if you’re experiencing even minor discomfort, abdominal pain, or changes in your period.

Gynecological cancer is one of the most evolved oncology fields, both in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatments.

Thus, you shouldn’t immediately associate the word “cancer” with “death”, but with a disease that can be treated. Think of it as a problem that should be faced with courage, strength, and a lot of family support.

Types of gynecological cancer

1. Cervical cancer

The cervical cancer rate has declined thanks to the use of condoms, the Papanicolaou test, and testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV).

However, early diagnosis offers the best chances for successfully treating the disease and tumors.

The following symptoms are associated with cervical cancer:

  • Heavy bleeding during menstruation.
  • Abundant vaginal fluid with streaks of blood.
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse.
  • Abdominal pain and lower back discomfort.

These symptoms can also be related to other health problems, like an infection. However, they’re a cause for concern and you should go see your doctor.

2. Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer warning signs.

Despite the fact that ovarian cancer typically affects women between the ages of 50 and 70, even if you’re younger, this illness shouldn’t be ignored as this type of cancer has a very high rate of occurrence.

To date, the cause of this type of gynecological cancer is not known. Experts tell us that it can be caused by hormonal and reproductive factors, diet, tobacco use, being overweight, and even products like talcum powder. The role that genetics are thought to play in this disease is between 10 and 15%.

Ovarian cancer, in general, causes few symptoms until its more advanced stage, hence the importance of regular exams.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Slight abdomen discomfort, almost like indigestion.
  • Pain in the pelvic area.
  • Anemia and weight loss.
  • Lack of appetite and fatigue.
  • Body hair increase due to hormonal changes.

3. Uterine cancer

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that forms a canal to the vagina. The problems associated with this type of cancer appear where the endocervix meets the ectocervix when carcinomas form.

Uterine cancer has a lower incidence among women who have had children. However, you should be aware that this type of cancer has a highly elevated genetic component.

Angelina Jolie is a very famous case who, as you may know, chose to have her ovaries and Fallopian tubes removed due to her high genetic predisposition to ovarian and breast cancer.

Uterine cancer is associated with the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding while not menstruating.
  • Abundant vaginal discharge with blood.
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse.

4. Vaginal cancer

Although this type of cancer also carries an important genetic component, we should inform you that vaginal cancer isn’t as common as the types of cancer mentioned above. There are two forms of this type of gynecological cancer:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: It forms in the squamous cells that line the vagina. It advances slowly with almost no symptoms until it reaches other organs.
  • Adenocarcinoma: It begins in the glandular cells of the vagina that produce and release fluids like “vaginal mucus”. It’s common in postmenopausal women.

The symptoms of this type of cancer are:

  • Bleeding not related to menstruation.
  • Back or pelvic pain.
  • Painful urination.
  • The appearance of a bump on the vagina.

5. Vulvar cancer

A woman with vulvar cancer.

This type of cancer is not very common and affects the labia majora. 

The following risk factors should be kept in mind:

  • Having an infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Having a history of abnormal Pap smears.
  • Lumps on the vulva or small, strange masses, like warts, with a different color.
  • Itching and discomfort in the vulva and surrounding areas.
  • Bleeding not related to menstruation.

To conclude, keep in mind that the most important thing we’ve mentioned in this article is PREVENTION. Remember to get periodic exams and go see your doctor for any discomfort.

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