Gynaecological Malignancies:

Gynaecological malignancies are cancers which involve the female
reproductive system. They include:

  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Vaginal Cancer
  • Vulvar Cancer
  • Peritoneal Cancer
  • Tubal Cancer

1. Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the second most common form of gynaecological cancer but causes the most deaths because it is difficult to detect early.

Ovarian cancer affects the ovaries, the two female reproductive organs located on either side of the uterus. It represents 5 percent of all cancers in women. 

There are three types of ovarian tumors, named for the tissue in which they are found:

  • Epithelial cell cancer begins in the cells that cover the surface of the ovary. Most of these tumors are benign (noncancerous). However, epithelial ovarian cancer accounts for 85 percent to 90 percent of ovarian cancer cases.
  • Germ cell cancer begins in the cells that form the eggs in the ovary.
  • Stromal cell cancer affects the cells that form the ovary and produce female hormones.

2. Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer, but it also is highly curable when found early.

Endometrial cancer is a disease of the lining of the uterus. It is different from uterine cancer , which affects the muscle of the uterus. Endometrial cancer is unusual in women under the age of 40.  Risk factors for this disease may include obesity and estrogen replacement therapy.

3. Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a disease of the cervix, or lower part of the uterus. Most cervical cancers begin in the cells lining the cervix (Squamous), although cancer in the gland cells (Adeno) of the cervix is becoming more common in young women. 

Cervical cancer often develops slowly over a number of years, starting with pre-cancerous changes in the cells of the cervix. Routine Pap smears can catch these pre-cancerous changes before they develop into cancer.

4. Uterine Cancer

The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a woman’s lower abdomen, between the bladder and the rectum. It is made up of the following parts:

  • Cervix, the narrow, lower portion of the uterus
  • Corpus, the broader, upper part of the uterus
  • Myometrium, the muscular outer layer of the corpus; this is the muscle that expands during pregnancy to hold the growing fetus
  • Endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus

Cancer of the uterus usually does not occur before menopause. It occurs mostly around the time menopause begins. The reappearance of bleeding should not be considered simply part of menopause. It should always be checked by a physician.

5. Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal cancer is rare. Vaginal cancer, or precursors to it are diagnosed after an abnormal pap test. However, please see your doctor if these symptoms occur:

  • Irregular bleeding
  • Vaginal lump
  • Pelvic pain

There are two main types of vaginal cancer:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma – This is the most common type of vaginal cancer. It forms in the cells lining the vagina and can sometimes spread to the lungs or liver. It is most often found in women aged 60 or older.
  • Adenocarcinoma – This cancer begins in the glandular cells, which are mucus-secreting cells found in the lining of the vagina. This type of cancer is more likely than squamous cell cancer to spread, and it typically is found in younger women.

6. Vulvar Cancer

The vulva is the external portion of the female genital organs. It includes:

  • labia majora – two large, fleshy lips, or folds of skin
  • labia minora – small lips that lie inside the labia majora and surround the openings to the urethra and vagina
  • vestibule – space where the vagina opens
  • prepuce – a fold of skin formed by the labia minora
  • clitoris – a small protrusion sensitive to stimulation
  • fourchette – area beneath the vaginal opening where the labia minora meet
  • perineum – area between the vagina and the anus
  • anus – opening at the end of the anal canal
  • urethra – connecting tube to the bladder

Vulvar cancer accounts for about 4 percent of gynaecological cancers.  The risk of vulvar cancer increases with age.  When vulvar cancer does occur in young women, it typically associated with the human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, which can be spread through sexual contact.
There are several types of vulvar cancer:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the skin cells of the vulva. This is the most common type of vulvar cancer.
  • Adenocarcinoma begins in the gland cells of the vulva, found just inside the opening of the vagina, or in the sweat glands of the skin.
  • Melanoma develops in the pigment-producing cells that give skin color. About 5-8 percent of melanomas in women occur on the vulva.
  • Sarcoma cancer begins in the cells of the muscles or connective tissues of the vulva. Although very rare, it can occur at any age, including childhood.
  • Basal cell carcinoma also is a very rare type of vulvar cancer.

Vulvar cancer does not always produce noticeable symptoms, so regular pelvic exams can greatly increase the chances of detecting this cancer early. 

7. Peritoneal Cancer

Peritoneal cancer is a rare cancer that affects the peritoneum, or the lining of the abdominal cavity.

Peritoneal cancer often does not create distinct symptoms. When it does, those symptoms are very similar to those of ovarian cancer . It often is not detected until late in its development. 

8. Tubal Cancer

Fallopian tube cancer, also known as tubal cancer, affects the Fallopian tubes that bridge the ovaries and uterus.  It is a very rare cancer, with only about 2,000 cases reported worldwide.

Symptoms of tubal cancer are similar to those of other gynaecological cancers.