Torrance Memorial Gynecologic Cancer Program

Cancers that affect a woman’s reproductive system are collectively referred to as “gynecologic cancers.” However, each of the several different types of gynecological cancers has its own signs, tests and treatment.

Uterine Cancer

The term “uterine cancer” describes cancer found in the uterus. The most common form of uterine cancer is endometrial cancer, which affects the lining of the uterus.

Risk factors for uterine cancer include:

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Having taken estrogen by itself (without progesterone) for HRT
  • A history of infertility
  • Having had fewer than five menstrual periods in the year before starting menopause
  • Taking tamoxifen
  • A personal or family history of uterine, colon or ovarian cancer

There are no routine screenings to detect uterine cancer. Symptoms that may indicate the presence of uterine cancer include abnormal bleeding, vaginal discharge and/or pelvic pain or pressure. Of special concern is bleeding after menopause; see your doctor immediately.

Treatments for uterine cancer include:

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer refers to cancer that is found in the ovaries. Though ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all gynecological cancers, it is treatable when detected early. There are no reliable routine screenings for ovarian cancer, so it is important to see your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms for two weeks or longer:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Pain in your back, pelvis or abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Feeling full quickly when you eat
  • A change in bathroom habits, including diarrhea, constipation or an urgent need to urinate

Risk factors for ovarian cancer include:

  • Middle age
  • Endometriosis
  • Personal history of breast, uterine, colorectal or cervical cancer or melanoma
  • Genetic mutation called BRCA1 or BRCA2, or one associated with Lynch syndrome
  • Family history (including on your father’s side) of ovarian cancer
  • An Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish background.
  • Have never given birth or difficulty conceiving
  • Have endometriosis

Treatments for ovarian cancer include:

Cervical Cancer

Cancer that starts in the cervix – the long, narrow end of the uterus – is called cervical cancer. When caught early, cervical cancer is highly treatable. Cervical cancer is preventable with regular screenings (Pap smears) and/or by getting the HPV vaccine, since the HPV virus causes most cases of cervical cancer. Other risk factors for cervical cancer include:

  • HIV
  • Smoking
  • Long-term use of oral contraceptives
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Having given birth to three or more children

In its early stages, cervical cancer has no signs or symptoms. As it advances, cervical cancer may bring abnormal bleeding or bleeding after sex; these symptoms should be checked out with your doctor.

Treatment for cervical cancer includes:

Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer

These terms describe cancer that begins in a woman’s vagina or in the outer part of her genitals. Risk factors for these cancers include HPV, HIV or other illnesses that affect the immune system, smoking, a history of cervical cancer or chronic burning or itching.

Symptoms that warrant a visit to your doctor include:

  • Abnormal discharge or bleeding
  • Pelvic pain, especially with urination or sex
  • Change in bathroom habits
  • Itching, burning or bleeding
  • Change in the color of the vulva (becomes redder or whiter than is normal for you)
  • Sores, lumps or ulcers on the vulva

Vaginal and vulvar cancer treatments include:

For More Information

For additional information about the Gynecologic Cancer program at Torrance Memorial, call our Nurse Navigator at 310-517-7077.

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