Gynaecological Cancer - How they are Diagnosed?
Cancer or the big ‘C’ can affect any part of the body including the female reproductive system. These types of cancer are known as gynaecological cancers. Gynaecological cancers occur when normal cells start growing in an uncontrolled manner. There are many different types of gynaecological cancers which are named as per the organs in which they first develop. These include:
- Ovarian cancer: Cancer that affects the ovaries and ova
- Uterine cancer: Cancer that begins inside the uterus
- Cervical cancer: Cancer that begins in the cervix or the section of the reproductive tract between the uterus and vagina
- Vaginal cancer: Cancer that begins in the vagina
- Vulval cancer: Cancer that originates in the opening of the vagina, labia minora or labia majora, clitoris or mons pubis
- Fallopian tube cancer: Cancer that affects the fallopian tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus
- Placenta cancer: Pregnancy related cancer
Gynaecological cancers are more commonly diagnosed in cases where the woman has a family history of cancer or has mutated genes. Advancing in age, exposure to hormones, and diethylstilbestrol can also increase the risk of suffering from such cancers. Additionally, viral infections such as human papilloma virus, obesity and unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking have also been identified as risk factors for cancer.
However, a woman may suffer from these types of cancer even if she does not fall into any of the above risk factor categories. Hence, it becomes important to focus on the symptoms. The symptoms of gynaecological cancers depend on the organ from where the tumour originated, the size of the tumour and it’s rate of growth.
Some of the symptoms which may be noticed are:
- Abnormal bleeding from the vagina
- Bleeding after intercourse
- Unusual discharge from the vagina
- Pain or discomfort in the abdominal area
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Painful intercourse
- Itching or burning sensations in the genital area
- Lumps, warts or sores in the genital area
- Unusual bladder and bowel habits
Gynaecological cancers can be treated by using chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal therapies or surgery depending on the stage of the cancer and the type of cancer. Hence, the earlier it is diagnosed, the better it is. Keeping the risk factors in mind, if the above symptoms are noticed, the doctor may ask for a number of tests to diagnose gynaecological cancers.
These tests include: