About Gynecologic Cancers

Facts About Gynecologic Cancers (PDF)

Commonly Asked Questions

What are gynecologic cancers?
Gynecologic cancers are the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells originating in the female reproductive organs, including the cervix, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina and vulva.

What causes gynecologic cancers?
There are many factors that cause gynecologic cancers. Medical research has discovered that some classes of genes, called oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, promote the growth of cancer. The abnormal function of these genes can be acquired (e.g., through smoking, aging, environmental influences) or inherited. Almost all cervical cancers and some cancers of the vagina and vulva are caused by a virus known as HPV, or Human Papillomavirus.

Can gynecologic cancers be prevented?
Screening and self-examinations conducted regularly can result in the detection of certain types of gynecologic cancers in their earlier stages, when treatment is more likely to be successful and a complete cure is a possibility. Diet, exercise and lifestyle choices play a significant role in the prevention of cancer. Additionally, knowledge of family history can increase the chance of prevention or early diagnosis by determining if someone may have a gene which makes them susceptible to cancer.

Who should treat gynecologic cancers?
Gynecologic cancers should be treated by a specialist with advanced training and demonstrated competence, such as a gynecologic oncologist.

A gynecologic oncologist is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist who has an additional three to four years of specialized training in treating gynecologic cancers from an American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology-approved fellowship program. This subspecialty program provides training in the biology and pathology of gynecologic cancers, as well as in all forms of treatment for these diseases, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and experimental treatments.

How are gynecologic cancers treated?
Gynecologic cancers are treated by using one or more of the following: surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. The choice of therapy(s) depends on the type and stage of the cancer.

Who is at risk?
Every woman is at risk for developing a gynecologic cancer. It is estimated that there will be about 91,730 new cases diagnosed and approximately 28,080 deaths from gynecologic cancers in the United States during 2013 (American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts & Figures 2013).

Gynecologic Cancer Statistics

In 2013, it is estimated that 91,730 women will be diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer and some 28,080 will die from her disease.

Here are the statistics for 2013:

Estimated
new cases
Estimated
deaths
Cervical cancer 12,340 4,030
Ovarian cancer 22,240 14,030
Uterine cancer 49,560 8,190
Vaginal and other
genital cancer
2,890 840
Vulvar cancer 4,700 990

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: American Cancer Society, Inc., Surveillance Research, 2013

Spotlight

Visit the Sisterhood of Survivorship page to read “Dena’s Story” — by a vulvar cancer survivor who has shared her story and wise words, and channeled her energy into her National Race to End Women’s Cancer team.

Awareness

Vaccine efficacy against vulvar infection with HPV 16/18 was comparable to the efficacy found against cervical infection 4 years after vaccination, according to researchers with the National Cancer Institute.

Research

The Foundation has published its 2014-2015 Research Grants and Awards Booklet with Applications. Please consider applying to become part of an elite group of physician-scientists committed to the well-being of women at risk for/affected by gyn malignancies.

Education

The next Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course will be Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Boston. For more information on courses, click here.