What are reproductive cancers?
- Reproductive cancers start in the organs related to reproduction (sex). These organs are located in the pelvis. The pelvis is the area in the lower belly between the hip bones.
- The most common reproductive cancers in women are:
- Uterine (YOO-teh-rin)—begins in the uterus (womb), the organ where the baby grows when a woman is pregnant.
- Cervical (SER-vih-kul)—begins in the cervix, the lower end of the uterus that attaches to the vagina.
- Ovarian (oh-VAYR-ee-un)—begins in the ovaries, the two organs that make and house a woman's eggs.
- Vaginal (VA-jih-nul)–begins in the vagina, the hollow channel that leads from the uterus to the outside of the body.
- Vulvar (VUL-var)—begins in the vulva, the area around the opening of the vagina.
- Breast cancer is sometimes considered a reproductive cancer too. Breast cancer begins in the tissues that make up the breast.
What are the early symptoms of reproductive cancers?
- Each type of reproductive cancer has different symptoms.
- Uterine-vaginal bleeding or discharge that is not normal, pressure or pain in the pelvic area.
- Cervical-vaginal bleeding or discharge that is not normal.
- Ovarian-vaginal bleeding or discharge that is not normal, pressure or pain in the pelvic area, belly or back, bloating.
- Vaginal-vaginal bleeding or discharge that is not normal.
- Vulvar-pressure or pain in the pelvic area, itching, burning, rash, or sores around the opening of the vagina.
- Breast-a lump in the breast, fluid coming from the nipple, or changes in the skin around the nipple.
- It's important to see a health care provider if you have any of these symptoms.
Are there tests to screen for reproductive cancers?
- Many times people with early stages of cancer have no symptoms.
- A screening test is used to find a disease before the person has any symptoms.
- There are screening tests for some reproductive cancers.
- Mammogram-x-ray test used to find breast cancer.
- Pap smear-lab test of cells taken during pelvic exam to check for cancer.
- There are no screening tests for the other reproductive cancers. For this reason, it is important to see a health care provider about any symptoms you experience.
- Finding cancers early increases the chance of being able to cure. Regular exams with a health care provider can help find cancers early, even if there are no symptoms.
- Diagnostic tests are used to find cancers in people who have symptoms.
- The tests used to find reproductive cancers depend on the type of cancer. These tests include:
- Lab tests—blood tests that sometimes show signs of cancer.
- Imaging tests—x-rays and other tests that help doctors "see" inside the body
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan.
- Computed Technology (CT) scan.
- Biopsy-procedure where a health care provider removes small pieces of tissue to check for cancer.
How are reproductive cancers treated?
- The treatment depends on the type of cancer.
- Reproductive cancers are often treated with surgery, chemotherapy (medicine to kill cancer cells), hormone therapy (medicine to block hormones that are related to cancer growth), or radiation.
- One or more of these treatments may be used together.
- An oncologist (cancer doctor) can help you select the right treatment.
National Cancer Institute:
- Gynecologic cancers
- Cervical cancer
- What you need to know about uterine cancer
- What you need to know about breast cancer