Gynaecological Cancers: What you need to know
As today marks World Cancer Day, Consultant Gynaecologist and Gynaecological Oncologist Mr Saurabh Phadnis discusses the different types of gynaecological cancers, from how to recognise the early signs and symptoms to who is most at risk and how common they are amongst women.
What are the different types of gynaecological cancers? – How common are they?
Gynaecological organs include womb, cervix, fallopian tube/ovary, vagina and vulva. Cancer can arise from any of these organs.
Cancer of womb is the most common with 9,300 new cases every year, ovarian or fallopian tubal cancer 7,500 cases, cervix cancer 3,000 new cases. Whereas vulval and vaginal cancers are rare with 1,300 and 250 new cases every year respectively.
What are the early signs and symptoms?
The red flag symptoms of gynaecological cancers are:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding (bleeding after menopause, bleeding in between periods, bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Abdominal bloating, pain, change in bowel or urinary habits
- Unusual swelling or ulcer on the vulva
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
Who is most at risk of developing a gynaecological cancer?
Some gynaecological cancers may be hereditary i.e. linked to faulty genes. Genetic testing is available to determine an individual’s risk.
- A faulty gene linked with Lynch Syndrome is associated with a lifetime risk of about 40-60% for developing womb cancer.
- Some other risk factors for womb cancer include obesity, diabetes, use of estrogen alone as hormone replacement and medication such as tamoxifen used in maintenance treatment of breast cancer.
- 10-15% of ovarian cancers are related to faulty genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2.
- Presence of HPV infection is associated with cancer of cervix and vagina and may be associated with some cancers arising from the vulva.
I have some of the above symptoms and I’m worried. What should I do?
If you have symptoms, you should seek appropriate medical advice. Either visit your GP or you can make an appointment at London Gynaecology.
What is the survival rate?
Survival rate depend on the stage of cancer. For example, stage 1 cancer of uterus has the best survival rate of 99% at 5 years whereas stage 3 and 4 ovarian cancer 40% at 5 years.
What can I expect from a consultation?
A consultation will include history taking, examination and relevant investigation such as ultrasound scan of pelvis. Occasionally further investigations such as examination under anaesthesia are necessary for diagnosis or planning treatment.
Make an appointment:
To learn more about Mr Saurabh Phadnis, visit his profile here