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Gynecologic Cancers

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a cancer of the cervix, which is the power portion of the uterus that opens into the vaginal canal and dilates during labor. Cervical cancer is common in the developing world, and in the U.S. approximately 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, while approximately 4,000 women each year will die of the disease in the U.S. When cervical cancer is diagnosed at the early stages, cure rates are excellent. By having a Pap test, cervical cancer can be caught as precancerous cells. Cervical cancer is caused by a persistent longstanding infection with high-risk strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infections are common in sexually active people, and can be prevented by administration of the HPV vaccine prior to onset of sexual activity.

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Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer originates in the ovaries. In 2015, the American Cancer Society estimated that 21,290 new cases of ovarian cancer would be diagnosed in the U.S. and 14, 180 deaths would result. Ovarian cancer is the ninth most common cancer in women and is the most lethal of the gynecologic malignancies. The incidence of ovarian cancer is 1.4% in the general population. There is no way to screen or prevent ovarian cancer. Some women are at increased risk of ovarian cancer, if they have a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, or genetic predisposition.

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Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer is the most common gynecologic malignancy in the U.S., with approximately 45,000 new diagnoses per year. Endometrial cancer starts in the lining of the uterus. Risk factors for endometrial cancer include age, obesity, hormonal disorders, and genetic predisposition. There is no way to screen or prevent endometrial cancer, however many women have symptoms early in the disease process. The most common symptom is postmenopausal bleeding. Some younger women will have a change in their normal periods. Because of this, many cases of endometrial cancer are detected and treated in early stages with excellent cure rates.

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Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal cancer arises in the vagina and is a very rare type of cancer. Vaginal cancer can be treated and is often cured, especially when it is localized to the vagina. Most vaginal cancers form in another part of the body, such as the cervix or endometrium, and later spread to the vagina. In some rare cases, cancer can form in the vagina without having spread from another location. If this is the case, it is referred to as primary vaginal cancer.

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Vulvar Cancer

Vulvar cancer is a cancer of the skin surrounding the opening of the vagina, including the clitoris and the labia. Vulvar cancer is uncommon, with just under 5,000 women in the U.S. being diagnosed each year. The incidence of vulvar cancer appears to be increasing since it is associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, the same virus that increases the risk for cervical cancer. Vulvar cancer is treatable, with higher cure rates when diagnosed at early stages.

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