According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, gynecologic cancers begin in the reproductive organs of women, and can affect the cervix, ovaries, uterus and endometrium, vagina, and vulva. More rarely, cancer can occur in the fallopian tubes.
The only screening test to detect the presence of cervical cancer is a Pap test. Women are encouraged to have a Pap test at regular intervals to detect cervical cancer early when treatment can be most effective. Other gynecologic cancers are only detected through the presence of symptoms, which include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge; pelvic pain; urgent or frequent urination; and constipation.
Among the gynecologic cancers, uterine (endometrial) cancer is the most common type. More than 49,500 Americans are diagnosed with this disease each year, and it tends to develop after menopause. Ovarian cancer is the second most common type of gynecologic cancer in the United States, affecting around one in 70 women. Cervical cancer used to be the most serious of cancers for women. However, thanks to screening, most people diagnosed with this illness can now be cured.
According to Yale Medicine, various factors that put a person at increased risk for developing gynecologic cancer. Contracting the human papillomavirus is one of them. Other factors include age (most patients are over age 50), and genetics. Exposure to diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic form of estrogen used between 1940 and 1971 is an additional risk factor.
Imaging tests, screenings, conversations with doctors, and being cognizant of body changes are some ways to detect gynecologic cancers early. While there is no way to completely avoid cancers of the female reproductive system, identifying risks and seeking help as early as possible can make gynecologic cancers much more treatable.