Gynecologic cancers start in a woman’s reproductive organs. All women are at risk for gynecologic cancers, and the primary risk factor is age. However, cancer screenings and self-examinations conducted regularly can result in the detection of certain types of gynecologic cancers in their earlier stages. Across all of the gynecologic cancers, treatment is most effective when the cancer is found early.
There are five main types of gynecologic cancer:
Each type of gynecologic cancer is unique, having its own risk factors, causes, and symptoms. Understanding more about these women’s cancers can help to lower your chances of developing advanced-stage gynecologic cancer.
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Types of Gynecologic Cancers
Most cervical cancers begin in the cells lining the cervix. These cells do not suddenly change into cancer. Instead, the normal cells of the cervix first gradually develop pre-cancerous changes that turn into cancer. You can learn more about cervical cancer in the following sections:
- Detecting and diagnosis of cervical cancer
- Stages of cervical cancer
- Cervical cancer treatment options
Ovarian cancer is a group of cancers that originates in the ovaries, or in the related areas of the fallopian tubes. Ovarian cancers develop on the interior or external surface of the ovary or fallopian tube. You can learn more about ovarian cancers in the following sections:
Uterine cancer, often referred to as endometrial cancer, is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lining of the uterus. Endometrial cancer is the most common type of gynecologic cancer. You can learn more about uterine cancer in the following sections:
When cancer cells form in the vagina, it is called vaginal cancer. Vaginal cancer is often caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV); however, it is a very rare form of gynecologic cancer.
Vulvar cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the vulva, which is a woman’s external genitalia. This normally, slow-growing cancer most often affects the vaginal lips. Like vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer is rare.