Learn About 5 Types of Gynecologic Cancer

Medically reviewed by Blair McNamara, M.D.

Gynecologic cancer is defined as any type of cancer that begins within the reproductive organs of a woman or a person assigned female at birth.

In 2024, there will be an estimated 116,930 new cases, as well as 33,850 deaths from gynecologic cancers in the U.S.

5 Types of Gynecologic Cancer

1. Uterine Cancer

Starts in a woman’s uterus
The most common type of uterine cancer is called endometrial cancer because it starts in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus
Most common in postmenopausal women

Ways to reduce risk of uterine cancer

Maintain a healthy weight
Stay physically active
Take progesterone if you are on estrogen (manage hormone therapy with a board-certified gynecologist)
Use birth control pills (oral contraceptives)

Symptoms of uterine cancer

Abnormal vaginal discharge
Bleeding after menopause
Pain or pressure in the pelvic area

Treatment options for uterine cancer

Clinical trials

Watch: How Endometrial Cancer Is Diagnosed >>

​2. Ovarian Cancer

Develops in the ovaries or in cells in the far end of the fallopian tubesA woman’s lifetime chance of developing this cancer is 1 in 78Most common in women ages 63 and older

Ways to reduce risk of ovarian cancer

Use birth control pills (oral contraceptives)Get genetic testing and possibly take action if you have a family history

Getting your tubes tied or having a hysterectomy reduces your risk for ovarian cancer, but these procedures are generally recommended only for medical reasons and not solely to prevent cancer.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer

Bloating, abdominal swelling or weight lossFeeling an urgency to urinate or having to urinate frequentlyAbdominal or pelvic painFeeling full fast and difficulty eatingExtreme fatiguePain during intercoursePeriod changesConstipationUpset stomach

Treatment options for ovarian cancer

SurgeryRadiationChemotherapyHormone therapyTargeted drug therapy

​3. Cervical Cancer

Starts in the cells that line the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus
Most often linked to human papillomavirus virus (HPV), the most commonly transmitted sexually transmitted infection (STI)
Can be detected by a Pap test, HPV test or combo test

Ways to reduce risk of cervical cancer

Get the HPV vaccine
Use condoms
Don’t smoke
Get screened regularly, starting at age 21 — Cervical cancer screenings can help catch precancerous or cancerous cells early when the cancer is more treatable and curable

Read: HPV Vaccination Is Cancer Prevention >>

Symptoms of cervical cancer

Early stages often have no symptoms, which is why screenings are important
Later stage symptoms can include:
abnormal vaginal discharge
abnormal bleeding
bleeding or pain during sexual intercourse

Treatment options for cervical cancer

For precancer (also called cervical dysplasia)

Laser ablation: A beam of high-energy light is used to vaporize abnormal tissue
Cryotherapy: Abnormal cells are frozen
Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP): Abnormal tissue is removed using a wire loop
Cone biopsy (also called cold knife conization): A cone-shaped part of the cervix (the bottom and part of the center) is removed

For cancer

Targeted drug therapy

​4. Vaginal Cancer

Starts in the vaginaA rare form of cancer, accounting for 1% to 2% of cancers in the female genital tractOccurs mainly in older women — the average age of diagnosis is 67Up to 90% of vaginal cancers and pre-cancers are linked to HPV

Ways to reduce risk of vaginal cancer

Get the HPV vaccineUse condomsDon’t smoke

Symptoms of vaginal cancer

Abnormal vaginal bleeding, often after sexAbnormal vaginal dischargePainful intercourseFeeling a mass or lump in the vaginaAdvanced stage symptoms can include painful urination, leg swelling, back pain, pelvic or lower body pain, constipation

Treatment options for vaginal cancer

For precancer

Laser ablation: A beam of high-energy light is used to vaporize abnormal tissueTopical therapy: Drugs like chemotherapy drug Fluorouracil (5-FU) or imiquimod cream can be placed on affected areas

For invasive vaginal cancer

Radiation therapySurgeryChemotherapy

​5. Vulvar Cancer

Involves the outer part of the female genitals, known as the vulva, and the vaginaVery rare: 6% of female reproductive organ cancer and .7% of all cancers in femalesMore than 1 in 2 cases are linked to high-risk HPV

Ways to reduce risk of vulvar cancer

Get an HPV vaccineUse condomsDon’t smokeKeep up with regular pelvic check-upsPerform regular self-exams of the vulva — Hold a mirror up to your vulva and look for changes in skin, like areas that are white, irritated or red, as well as new sores, growths or bumps

Symptoms of vulvar cancer

An area of the vulva that looks abnormal — lighter or darker than normal skin, red or pink skinA red, pink, or white bump or lump that may have a wart-like surface or feel rough and thickItchingThickening of vulvar skinBurning or painAbnormal bleeding or dischargeAn open sore that typically lasts for longer than a month

Treatment options for vulvar cancer

Topical creams therapy, including chemotherapy drugs fluorouracil (5-FU) or imiquimodSurgeryRadiationChemotherapy

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