Other gynecological cancers
The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus; it connects the uterus to the vagina. The Pap test can detect precancerous changes to the cells of the cervix and with appropriate treatment, cervical cancer can be prevented. Cervical screening programs are operated provincially and screening is recommended every one to two years, depending on the province.
The most common cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is passed from person to person during sexual intercourse. The HPV vaccine is now available to help protect against the majority of these types of viruses. Due to the introduction of Pap test, the number of women with cervical cancer in Canada has decreased by 50% and the number of women who have died of the disease has gone down by 60% since 1977.
The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus. A woman’s eggs (ova) travel from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. Recently, pathologists and oncologists now consider ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal to be same disease, indistinguishable under the microscope and called by different names only because of differences in the distribution of the cancer. As such symptoms and treatment are the same as for ovarian cancer. If you are having gynecologic surgery, ask your doctor whether or not removal of the fallopian tubes would be beneficial to you.
GTD (gestational trophoblastic disease)
Gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) is a group of diseases that begin when abnormal placental cells grow in the uterus after conception. GTD can develop from a normal or abnormal pregnancy but is usually the result of an abnormal joining of the sperm and egg. Symptoms can include unusual vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, anemia, unusual abdominal swelling and severe vomiting. Ultrasound is used in the diagnosis of GTD and other tests may follow. Treatment can include chemotherapy and surgery.
The peritoneum is the membrane that lines the inside of the abdominal cavity and the surface of all organs in the abdomen. Recently, pathologists and oncologists now consider ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal to be same disease, indistinguishable under the microscope and called by different names only because of differences in the distribution of the cancer. As such symptoms and treatment are the same as for ovarian cancer.
Cancer of the uterus or womb begins in the cells lining the uterus called the endometrium. Uterine cancer (or endometrial carcinoma) is most common in postmenopausal women although it can occur in younger women.
Several factors are believed to increase risk for uterine cancer including a family history of the disease, taking estrogen replacement therapy alone after menopause, obesity, beginning menstruation at a young age, reaching menopause later than usual, and never having given birth. There is no effective screening test at this time. Fortunately, many uterine cancers are caught early because they cause bleeding, which is highly abnormal in postmenopausal women. Other symptoms include abnormal bleeding between periods, heavier/longer lasting menstruation, blood in the stool or urine, abnormal vaginal discharge, and pelvic or back pain.
Cancer of the vagina or birth canal is a rare disease representing about 2% of all gynecologic cancers. It typically affects women over 65 but some of the more rare forms can be found in women under 20. Most vaginal cancers begin in the lining (epithelium) of the vagina and are called vaginal squamous cell carcinomas. Risk factors include increasing age, certain high risk strains of human papillomavirus, having a diagnosis of cervical cancer, being of a young age at first intercourse and having a large number of sexual partners over a lifetime.
Vulvar cancer is the abnormal growth of malignant cells in the vulva, the female external genetalia. A relatively rare disease, vulvar cancer represents about 4% of all gynecologic cancers.
Diagnosed and treated early, this cancer is highly curable. Most women diagnosed with vulvar cancer are over the age of 50, and half of those women are over the age of 70. The most common symptom is vulvar itching; there can also be pain, bleeding, vaginal discharge and/or pain during urination. Risk factors include being older, and having a history of infection with certain human papillomaviruses (HPV), multiple sexual partners or sexual transmitted diseases, cervical cancer, immunodeficiency, chronic vaginal and vulvar irritation and smoking.