Gynecologic Cancer

Gynecologic cancer is any cancer that starts in a woman’s reproductive organs. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts. Gynecologic cancers begin in different places within a woman’s pelvis, which is the area below the stomach and in between the hip bones.

Types of Gynecologic Cancer

  • Cervical cancer begins in the cervix, which is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. (The uterus is also called the womb.)
  • Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which are located on each side of the uterus.
  • Uterine cancer begins in the uterus, the pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvis where the baby grows when she is pregnant.
  • Vaginal cancer begins in the vagina, which is the hollow, tube-like channel between the bottom of the uterus and the outside of the body.
  • Vulvar cancer begins in the vulva, the outer part of the female genital organs.

What Are the Symptoms?

There is no way to know for sure if you will get a gynecologic cancer. That’s why it is important to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you, so you can recognize the warning signs or symptoms of gynecologic cancer.

If you have vaginal bleeding that is unusual for you, talk to a doctor right away. You should also see a doctor if you have any other warning signs that last for two weeks or longer and are not normal for you. Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see a doctor.

Signs and symptoms are not the same for everyone and each gynecologic cancer (cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar cancers) has its own signs and symptoms.

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge is common on all gynecologic cancers except vulvar cancer.
  • Feeling full too quickly or difficulty eating, bloating, and abdominal or back pain are common only for ovarian cancer.
  • Pelvic pain or pressure is common for ovarian and uterine cancers.
  • More frequent or urgent need to urinate and/or constipation are common for ovarian and vaginal cancers.
  • Itching, burning, pain, or tenderness of the vulva, and changes in vulva color or skin, such as a rash, sores, or warts, are found only in vulvar cancer.