World Cancer Day 2023: 5 gynaecologic cancers that affect reproductive health

On World Cancer Day 2023, we are revealing a few most common types of gynecologic cancers in women, which can wreak havoc with your reproductive health.
gynecologic cancer
These are different forms of gynecologic cancer. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Aayushi Gupta Published: 5 Feb 2023, 08:59 am IST
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Gynaecological cancers, which begin in a woman’s reproductive organs, are the most prevalent cancers among women. They consist of ovarian, uterine, cervix, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. Due to the lack of cancer awareness and screening facilities, most gynaecological cancers are reported late, thereby having adverse outcomes. Although all of these cancers are treatable if detected at an early stage, they are also among the main causes of cancer-related deaths in women globally. As a result, it is important to understand the signs and triggers of these cancers.

Dr Kirti Bhushan, Consultant-Surgical Oncology, S.L. Raheja Hospital, A Fortis Associate – Mahim, tells HealthShots that gynaecological cancers are the most common types of cancer found in women.

Here are 5 most common types of gynecological cancers:

1. Cervical cancer

The second most common type of cancer diagnosed in Indian women and the fourth most prevalent type in all women worldwide is cervical cancer. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the virus that causes this cancer which a majority of women get in their reproductive lives. “Women who marry young, have multiple children, practice poor genital hygiene, and have ongoing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are more likely to get cervical cancer,” according to Dr Bhushan. Getting an HPV vaccine at a young age is the most efficient way to avoid it. However, you can still get it until you turn 26. This cancer can definitely be treated, especially if it is detected early.

gynecologic cancer
Cervical cancer can be treated. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Ovarian cancer

The third most prevalent type of cancer in Indian women is ovarian cancer, which develops in the ovaries. It shows symptoms such as feeling full right away after eating, irregular bowel movements, back and pelvic pain, frequent urination, exhaustion, and loss of appetite. Since these symptoms are unrelated to the female genital system, thus this cancer goes undetected until it has spread to the pelvis and abdomen, making treatment challenging. Among the risk factors for ovarian cancer are early menstruation, infertility, late menopause, smoking, alcohol consumption, HPV and HIV infection, diabetes, a weak immune system, and strong family history.

3. Endometrial cancer

Endometrial cancer is often known as uterine cancer. It is a form of cancer that develops in the uterine lining (uterus). Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after menopause or bleeding between periods, is a crucial indicator of this endometrial cancer. Pelvic pain and pain during sex are possible additional symptoms, though in some instances there are none at all. Fortunately, this cancer can be cured, and treatment options include removing the uterus surgically, radiation, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. However, if it is not treated, it can spread to distant organs such as the fallopian tubes, bladder, rectum, vagina, and bladder.

gynecologic cancer
It can affect your reproductive health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Vaginal cancer

Vaginal cancer is the rarest type of female reproductive cancer or gynecological cancer because it typically affects women over 50. The infection causing this malignancy is the human papillomavirus. Pain during and after sex, unusual vaginal bleeding, and discharge are possible signs. It could be challenging to treat if it spreads outside of the vagina.

5. Vulvar cancer

The symptoms of gynaecological cancers are post-menopausal bleeding or perimenopause-heavy periods, this sign is common to all types of gynecologic cancer except vulvar cancer. Like vaginal cancer, it develops on the surface area of the female genitals and is more common in older women. It may manifest as an itchy, burning, or painful skin rash, sore or wart, or ulceration. Surgery is used to remove the malignancy along with a tiny portion of the surrounding healthy tissues.

Treatment for gynaecologic cancer

There are various treatment options available for the management of gynaecological cancers depending on the stage, location, and type of cancer. Surgery is the cornerstone.

gynecologic cancer
All types of cancers need proper treatment. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“Radical cytoreductive surgeries and the addition of HIPEC procedures have improved outcomes. A lot of chemotherapeutic drug combinations and immunotherapy improve survival. Adjuvant radiation therapies especially in cervical cancers are playing a pivoted role. In spite of the quality treatment available, the best form of treatment is prevention which includes screening with a PAP smear, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, genetic testing, HPV vaccines, and maintaining good hygiene, “ says Dr Bhushan.


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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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