Cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancers are the three most common types of gynecological cancers. Typically the earlier a cancer is detected and diagnosed, the better the chance that treatment will be successful. However, some types of the disease may not cause any symptoms in the early stages or signs of the cancer could be associated with other conditions. That is why it is important to see a doctor for regular checkups and seek medical attention right away for any unusual symptoms.
Cervical cancer starts in cells located on the surface of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus. There usually are not any symptoms of the disease in the early stages. As it progresses, cervical cancer can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding between periods, longer menstrual periods or bleeding after menopause, as well as increased vaginal discharge and pelvic pain.
Women at increased risk for developing the disease include those who have human papollomavirus (HPV), sporadic Pap tests, smoked, used birth control for an extended period of time, given birth to more than five children, multiple sexual partners or a weakened immune system. Pap tests can be done to help detect and treat abnormal cells and prevent most cervical cancer.
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HPV, Cervical Cancer and You >
Endometrial cancer is the most common cancer found in women’s reproductive organs. It starts in the inner lining of the uterus and can cause unusual bleeding, spotting or other discharge, as well as pelvic pain, unexplained weight loss or a lump.
A woman’s chances of developing the disease increase if she has diabetes, endometrial hyperplasia (increased growth of the endometrium), ovarian tumors, a family history of endometrial cancer, elevated levels of estrogen, undergone estrogen-only therapy for menopause, and a higher number of periods over the course of her lifetime due to periods starting at a younger age or going through menopause later.
Other risk factors for the disease include being older or obese, taking tamoxifen and a history of breast or ovarian cancer or pelvic radiation therapy. Endometrial cancer can be diagnosed following a biopsy, hysteroscopy (looking inside the uterus and taking tissue samples), or dilation and curettage (using a special instrument to scrape tissue from inside the uterus).
Endometrial Cancer >
Ovarian cancer is relatively rare. It is more common in Caucasian women and those with a family history of ovarian, breast or colon cancers. Other factors that may increase the risk of ovarian cancer include a first period at a young age, late menopause, use of fertility drugs, no children, hormone replacement therapy after menopause and long-term use of talc in the genital area.
Women with lower chances of developing the disease include those who take birth control pills, have had children, undergone tubal ligation or have breastfed. Obvious signs of ovarian cancer do not appear until the disease is quite advanced, but may include nausea, vomiting, fatigue and unexplained weight loss. The disease can be diagnosed after undergoing radiological tests, computed tomography scans and an abdominal ultrasound.
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For more information about gynecological cancers, talk with your doctor or call 866-904-9262 for a free referral to a gynecologist near you.