Gynecologic cancers include all cancers of the female reproductive system, including cancers of the cervix, ovaries, uterus, vulva and vagina. Gynecologic cancers account for approximately 12.4% of all cancers in women in the U.S. each year. According to the American Cancer Society, there were an estimated 109,000 new cases diagnosed and approximately 33,100 deaths from gynecologic cancers in the U.S. in 2019.
We spoke with Ritu Salani, MD, MBA, professor of UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the UCLA division of gynecologic oncology, to learn more about these diseases. Here’s what she wants every woman to know about symptoms, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment so you can take care of yourself and your loved ones.
It is estimated that 13,800 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2020. Symptoms of cervical cancer commonly include abnormal vaginal bleeding (in between cycles or after intercourse), foul-smelling vaginal discharge, or abnormal findings on a Pap test. If suspected, your provider will perform cervical biopsies and possibly a colposcopy.
Things you can do to reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer:
It is estimated that 65,620 new cases of uterine cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2020. Symptoms of endometrial cancer commonly include abnormal bleeding (in between cycles) or bleeding after menopause (which is never normal). If suspected, your provider will obtain a pelvic ultrasound and an endometrial biopsy.
Things you can do to reduce your risk of developing endometrial cancer:
It is estimated that 21,750 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2020. Ovarian cancer presents with vague symptoms which includes abdominal bloating, pelvic pressure, loss of appetite or feeling full early, or changes in bowel or bladder habits. If suspected, your provider will order imaging tests (ultrasound or CT scan) and, if an ovarian mass is noted, consider checking blood tests such as a CA-125 level.
Things you can do to reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer:
It is estimated that 6,120 new cases of vulvar cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2020. Symptoms of vulvar cancer commonly include itching, irritation, discoloration, or a mass/lesion the vulva. If suspected, your provider will perform a vulvar biopsy.
Things you can do to reduce your risk of developing vulvar cancer:
At UCLA our multidisciplinary team of experts work together to evaluate each patient’s situation and to customize a treatment plan that is in the best interest of each individual patient. We have experts in minimally invasive procedures, radical surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy and clinical trials. Remember, early diagnosis is key to successful treatment.
All UCLA clinics have rigorous infection prevention policies in place and are ready to care for you. For more information about what you should know about gynecologic cancer care and COVID-19 > UCLA Health Connect