Gynaecological cancers affect the female reproductive organs. There are seven main gynaecological cancer types:
Cervical cancer begins in the cervix, the neck of a woman’s uterus. The cause of virtually all cervical cancers is persistent infection with a high-risk HPV. It is far from defeated by new cancer limiting HPV vaccination and screening, with the number of new cases predicted to rise from 850 per year to 915 in 2020.
Ovarian cancer is the sixth most frequent form of cancer in women worldwide. Typically it causes few early symptoms and is usually not discovered until it has spread around the pelvis and abdomen. The 5-year survival is only about 40%.
Uterine cancer is the most common gynaecological cancer. Diagnosis rates are steadily increasing, with 2500 new cases diagnosed per year. This is expected to rise to 2830 by the year 2020. Over 95% of cancers of the body of the uterus arise from the glands of the endometrium and are called endometrial adenocarcinomas.
Primary cancer of the vagina accounts for only about 2% of gynaecological cancers. The vagina is more commonly involved with secondary spread of cancer from the adjacent cervix or vulva. Many of these cancers are caused by HPV infection and about 30% of women with vaginal cancer will have a prior history of cervical precancer [CIN] or cancer.
Cancer of the Fallopian Tubes
Fallopian tube cancer may occur in one or both of the fallopian tubes. Though thought to be rare, it was recently demonstrated than in some cases, a woman’s ovarian cancer has probably started in her fallopian tube.
Cancer of the Placenta
Gestational trophoblastic diseases (GTD) are a unique spectrum of diseases that originate in the placenta or afterbirth. Less than 300 Australian women are diagnosed with GTD each year. These are rare tumours.
Cancer of the Vuvla
The external genitalia of females are referred to collectively as the vulva. Cancer of the vulva is uncommon, accounting for only about 4% of gynaecological cancers. Ninety percent of vulva cancers arise from the skin surface.