The following describes the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of gynecological cancer. For specific information regarding your health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
What is gynecological cancer?
Gynecological cancer is a general term that refers to cancer of the female reproductive system. Various types of gynecological cancer include cervical cancer, gestational trophoblastic disease, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer.
What causes gynecological cancer?
The exact causes of gynecological cancers are hard to pinpoint, and the causes differ depending on what area of the body is affected. For example, cervical cancer can be caused by various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection.
What are the symptoms of gynecological cancer?
Since the symptoms of gynecological cancer vary across individuals and may appear similar to symptoms of other illnesses and disorders, you should always speak to your Hurley physician about any symptoms you are experiencing. For example, vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods, or after menopause might be a symptom of cervical cancer. Again, the best course of action is to consult your Hurley physician.
How is gynecological cancer disgnosed?
If you notice any changes in your reproductive organs (unusual discharge or pain), you should contact a medical professional immediately. During your appointment, your Hurley physician will ask you questions about your medical history and conduct a complete physical examination. Laboratory tests may be ordered, including blood, urine and other tests. Your physician may conduct a biopsy, in which small samples of tissue are removed and analyzed by a trained pathologist for the presence of abnormal cells. Imaging technology may also be used to detect cancer and to determine the location and spread of such cancers. These imaging tests include x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans and bone scans (to detect whether the cancer has spread to the bones).
How is gynecological treated?
Part of the diagnostic testing process involves grading and “staging” the gynecological cancer. In this step, your oncologist will determine the type of cancerous cells or tumors present and the degree to which the cancer has spread to other organs and systems of the body. Your oncologist will then recommend a course of treatment that takes this information into account, as well as your age, overall health, and personal and family circumstances, and your unique needs and objectives for treatment.
Treatment options include surgery to remove the cancerous cells. For less aggressive cancers, minimally invasive procedures such as cryosurgery (in which the cancer cells are killed by freezing) or laparoscopic surgery (using a thin, lighted tube with a viewing device to guide the surgeon) may be effective.
Chemotherapy or external and internal radiation therapy may also be used, alone or in combination with each other, or in addition to surgical techniques. Chemotherapy drugs are usually injected into a vein and travel throughout the body to kill quickly growing cells, including cancer cells.
Research on gynecological cancer is ongoing; you may wish to speak with your Hurley physician about clinical trials that are testing new, emerging treatment options.