Dr. Karthik Chandra VallaM
(MBBS, M.S, M.Ch, D.N.B Surgical Oncology)
Gynecological cancers are a group of diseases that affect a woman's reproductive system. The most common types are cervical, ovarian, uterine (endometrial), vaginal, vulvar,Gestational trophoblastic cancers. Each of these cancers is different, with unique traits, things that make them more likely to happen (risk factors), and ways they are treated.
Cervix is situated at the lower part of the uterus and is long and narrow. Cervical cancer is a type of gynecologic cancer that begins in the cervix, the entrance of the uterus (womb)into the vagina (birth canal). This is the only gynecologic cancer that has a screening test
Causes: HPV, a sexually transmitted infection, is believed to be responsible for nearly all cases of cervical cancer. The infection leads to cellular changes in the cervix, resulting in abnormal cell growth known as dysplasia, which is a precancerous condition.
Symptoms: Abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain or discomfort, pain during sexual intercourse, and unusual vaginal discharge.
Ovaries are the two small oval female reproductive organs that sit on either side of the uterus and are responsible for producing eggs and hormones like estrogen and progesterone. It is a type of cancer that starts in the ovaries and it can develop in one or both ovaries. The three kinds of ovarian cancer are stromal cell cancer, epithelial ovarian cancer, and germ cell cancer. Among all these cancers, epithelial cancer is the most common one. 85% of ovarian cancers are epithelial ovarian cancer.
Causes: The risk of developing ovarian cancer is higher as you get older. Women who have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, are overweight, smoke, or have not had children are at a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Symptoms: Ovarian cancer symptoms are usually not specific and can be similar to other conditions. These may include bloating, pain in the lower abdomen, feeling full quickly after eating, constipation, unexplained weight gain or loss, and more. If these symptoms continue and seem unusual, it is important to seek advice from gynecological specialists for an accurate diagnosis. Detecting cancer early is vital for successful treatment.
Women have a pear-shaped organ in the body known as the uterus. This is the area where the growth of the baby takes place. It is one of the most common types of cancer that is found in women. This gynecologic cancer develops in the uterus (endometrium), which is the inner lining of the uterus (womb). This cancer is primarily divided into two main types including endometrial stromal tumors, endometrial cancers, and uterine sarcomas. Among these, endometrial cancer is identified as the most common type of cancer affecting the uterus, according to medical professionals.
Causes: Obesity is a significant factor that can contribute to the development of uterine cancer. Other risk factors such as age, a family history of uterine cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, not having children, and the use of certain medications for breast cancer. These factors can increase the chances of developing uterine cancer.
Symptoms: Vaginal bleeding after menopause, painful intercourse, difficulty passing urine, and abdominal pain are among the symptoms of uterine cancer. However, it is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other factors. To determine the underlying cause of these symptoms, it is advisable to consult with your gynecologist.
Vaginal cancer is seen beginning in the vaginal tissues. The other rare form of gynecologic cancer, is typically seen in older women who are above the age of 50 years. In the case of vaginal cancer, Human papillomavirus, or HPV injection, is responsible. Doctors perform radical surgery to treat vulvar cancer, and sometimes chemotherapy or radiotherapy is also needed.
Causes: The primary cause of vaginal cancer is often an infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). Additional risk factors include age and having a weakened immune system.
Symptoms: People with vaginal cancer can experience foul-smelling vaginal discharge, Vaginal bleeding, pain during intercourse, and abnormal vaginal discharge.
Vulvar cancer is a rare type of cancer that primarily affects the external genitalia of females. It is commonly seen in elderly women but can be effectively treated in most cases. In some cases, doctors can perform radical surgery to treat vulvar cancer. Sometimes radiation therapy and chemotherapy are also needed.
Causes : Human papillomavirus, age, smoking, weak immunity, etc., are some risk factors that can increase the risk of this type of gynecologic cancer.
Symptoms: Signs of vulvar cancer can include a lump on or near the vulva, itching, burning, or pain in the vulva, enlarged lymph nodes in the groin area, and changes in the shape or color of any mole. If you notice these symptoms, it's important to see gynecological specialists for advice.
Gestational Trophoblastic Tumor
Gestational trophoblastic disease, or GTD, is a group of tumors linked to pregnancy. There are five types, with one being non-cancerous (benign) and the other four being cancerous (malignant). These tumors form in the trophoblast, a layer of cells during pregnancy. The good news is that doctors have found chemotherapy to be an effective treatment, and most cases are curable.
Causes: Gestational trophoblastic tumors, such as molar pregnancies, arise from abnormal cell development in early pregnancy, often due to genetic factors.
Symptoms: Abnormal vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy and severe nausea and vomiting, resembling extreme morning sickness. Prompt medical attention is crucial for diagnosis and management.
Gynecologic Cancer Treatment
The main aim of treating gynecologic cancer is to remove or shrink it. Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The plan is based on the patient's condition, the type of cancer, and its stage. Some need surgery and chemotherapy, some require surgery and radiation, and some need all three treatments.
Surgery: Depending on the cancer type and stage, surgical procedures may involve removal of tumors, hysterectomy, or removal of affected organs.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy, using X-rays or beams, can be used alone or with other treatments to destroy fast-growing cancer cells in gynecologic cancers.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses medicines, either injected or taken by mouth, to kill cancer cells inside the body, administered by gynecological specialists.Targeted Therapy: Specific drugs target cancer cells while sparing normal cells.
Gynecologic cancer has become quite common, especially cervical and ovarian cancer. If you're noticing symptoms listed earlier, consider consulting Dr. Karthik Chandra, a gynecologist specialist known for providing excellent care.