Gynecologic cancers include all cancers of the female reproductive system, including cancers of the cervix, ovaries, uterus, vulva and vagina. According to the American Cancer Society, there were an estimated 116,760 new cases diagnosed and approximately 34,080 deaths from gynecologic cancers in the U.S. in 2020.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.