Cancer, in simplest terms, is the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells. Though cancer can occur anywhere in the body, gynecological cancers specifically affect a woman’s reproductive organs. There are various types of gynecological cancers, including ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, cervical cancer, and vaginal cancer. Each type of gynecological cancer has its own unique symptoms and treatment options.
Types of Gynaecological Cancers
Ovarian Cancer: Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer among women. It occurs when cells in the ovaries grow out of control and form a tumor. Symptoms of ovarian cancer can include bloating, pelvic pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and changes in menstrual flow. Treatment for ovarian cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Uterine Cancer: Uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, is the most common type of gynecological cancer. It occurs when cells in the uterus grow out of control and form a tumor. Symptoms of uterine cancer can include vaginal bleeding that is not associated with your period, pelvic pain, and bloating. Treatment for uterine cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Cervical Cancer: Cervical cancer is the second most common type of gynecological cancer. It occurs when cells in the cervix grow out of control and form a tumor. Symptoms of cervical cancer can include vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, and increased discharge from the vagina. Treatment for cervical cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Vaginal Cancer : Vaginal cancer is the least common type of gynecological cancer. It occurs when cells in the vagina grow out of control and form a tumor. Symptoms of vaginal cancer can include vaginal bleeding, pain during sexual intercourse, and changes in the appearance or smell of vaginal discharge. Treatment for vaginal cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Causes of Gynaecological Cancers
The cause of gynecological cancers is not fully understood, but there are certain risk factors that may increase your chance of developing one. Some of the most common risk factors include:
- Aging: The older you are, the greater your risk of developing gynecological cancer.
- Genetics: Certain genes may increase your risk of developing ovarian, uterine, cervical, or vaginal cancer.
- Obesity: Women who are obese are at greater risk of developing ovarian and uterine cancer.
- Smoking: Women who smoke are at greater risk of developing cervical and vaginal cancer.
- HPV Infection: HPV infection is a common sexually transmitted infection that can increase your risk of developing cervical cancer.
Diagnosis of Gynaecological Cancers
If you experience any of the symptoms of gynecological cancer, it is important to see your doctor right away. Your doctor will perform a physical exam and may order various tests to determine if you have cancer. Some of the tests that may be used to diagnose gynecological cancer include:
- Pelvic Exam: During a pelvic exam, your doctor will examine your reproductive organs for signs of cancer.
- Pap Test: A pap test is a screening test that can detect early signs of cervical cancer.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the inside of your body. It can be used to detect tumors in the ovaries, uterus, and cervix.
- MRI: A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create images of the inside of your body. It can be used to detect tumors in the ovaries, uterus, and cervix.
Treatment for Gynaecological Cancers
The treatment for gynecological cancers depends on the type of cancer you have. However, common treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
- Cancer Surgery: Surgery is often used to remove a tumor or affected tissues.
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
Though gynecological cancers can be frightening, early diagnosis and treatment can often lead to a successful outcome. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a gynecological cancer, please see your doctor as soon as possible. Treatment options are available and early diagnosis is key!
Prevention – Gynaecological Cancers
There are a number of ways that women can reduce their risk of developing gynecological cancers.
One important way is to have regular cervical screening tests, as these can detect early signs of cancer. It’s also important to be aware of any changes in your body and to see your doctor if you have any concerns .Other ways to reduce your risk of gynecological cancer include:
- Having a healthy diet and active lifestyle
- Avoid smoking completely
- Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
- Use contraception if you need to, and choose the most appropriate method for you
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