In a typical year in the U.S., over 80,000 women are diagnosed with a gynecological cancer, and nearly 30,000 women die from one of these diseases, as reported by the CDC. Gynecological cancers refer to a group of cancers that strike parts of the female reproductive system. At Tulane Medical Center, our Center for Women’s Health and our Cancer Center work together to diagnose and treat these cancers. It’s important to be vigilant to the symptoms of these cancers, as early diagnosis is associated with better patient outcomes. Here is what you need to know.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge is the only symptom that occurs with cervical cancer, and some patients may not experience any symptom at all. The good news about cervical cancer is that it can easily be screened for during a pelvic exam using a Pap smear.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer include vaginal bleeding and discharge, pelvic pain, abdominal and back pain, and changes in bathroom habits. These non-specific symptoms can be associated with other conditions, but if you experience them, be sure to consult your gynecologist.
Although some women with uterine cancer don’t have any symptoms, others may have vaginal bleeding or discharge and pelvic pain. The risk of uterine cancer increases with age and is highest after menopause. If your gynecologist suspects uterine cancer, he or she will recommend a biopsy.
Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer
With vaginal cancer, patients may have bleeding, discharge, and changes in bathroom habits. When cancer starts in the vulva, itching, burning, and changes in vulvar skin are common. Your gynecologist will look for symptoms of these cancers during a pelvic exam.
If you’re having troubling symptoms that could indicate a gynecological cancer, make an appointment with a doctor at Tulane’s Center for Women’s Health for screening and diagnosis. If cancer is present, our Cancer Care Center and robotic surgery team can deliver the treatment you need. Learn more about all of our services, from back surgery to cardiology, by calling (504) 988-5263.