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Published on April 12, 2021

Gynecologic Cancer: What You Should Know

Vaagn Andikyan, MD, and Mitchell Clark, MD, Gynecologic Oncology

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Gynecologic cancer is cancer of the female reproductive organs—the ovaries, uterus, cervix, vagina, and vulva. Each of these cancers present in different ways, so it’s vital to your health to commit to regular gynecologic screenings.

Drs. Vaagn Andikyan and Mitchell Clark of Stamford Health’s Women’s Specialty Center reveal the most important things to know about gynecologic cancer.

What is uterine cancer?

Uterine cancer is the most common gynecological cancer in the United States and is most common in women in their fifties or older.

What are the symptoms of uterine cancer?

The most common symptom of uterine cancer is abnormal uterine bleeding, which happens in 75 to 90 percent of cases. If you are postmenopausal, this means having any bleeding or spotting at all. If you still get your period, it may manifest as inter-menstrual bleeding, heavier than normal bleeding or more frequent bleeding.

It’s important to know that irregular bleeding can be caused by factors other than cancer, so please talk to your doctor if you are at all concerned.

Is uterine cancer painful?

Pain or an enlarged mass is very unlikely unless the uterine cancer has reached a more advance stage.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, which is caused by one of two forms of the human papillomavirus or HPV.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Early cervical cancer often has no symptoms which is why regular PAP smears are so important. For women with symptoms, the most common ones are irregular or heavy vaginal bleeding and bleeding after having sex.

In some cases, women can have abnormal vaginal discharge (watery, mucous-like, or foul smelling) which, can initially be mistaken for a vaginal or cervical infection. Symptoms that may suggest advanced disease include pelvic or low back pain, blood in urine or stool, and passing urine or stool from the vagina.

The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to go for your regular gynecological exams. Please do not delay this one simple exam—your health is too important.

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is cancer of the female organs that produce eggs, or ovaries.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer does not have obvious symptoms in the early stages and is not easily detected by routine exams.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are usually vague and can be confused with a variety of other conditions, which is why this cancer is so difficult to diagnose based on symptoms alone.

The most common signs include bloating, abdominal or pelvic pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and weight loss.

If symptoms persist for weeks, please call your doctor.

What if I have a family history of gynecologic cancer?

In some cases, family history of any of these cancers, especially ovarian, is an important risk factor of which to be aware. Please let your doctor know if this is the case.

We may refer you to our cancer genetics program for screening and counseling, if you wish. Stamford Health’s Women’s Specialty Center is the only facility with staff that are certified in both gynecology and genetics. Our genetic counselors are committed to your needs and approach each diagnosis with compassion and the latest information available.

Seek the care of gynecologic cancer specialists in Stamford, CT.

You can rely on the gynecologic oncology experts in Stamford Health’s Women’s Specialty Center and the Carl & Dorothy Bennett Cancer Center to customize a care plan that best fits your lifestyle.

At Stamford Health, we focus on education, lifestyle changes, the importance of regular gynecologic screenings and any recommended vaccinations.

Drs. Andikyan and Clark specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic cancers. They are accepting patients at the Women’s Specialty Center at Stamford Health.

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