The volunteers of Woman to Woman share their own experiences and offer support and guidance to other women going through cancer therapy.
About Gynecologic Cancer
What Is Gynecologic Cancer?
Gynecologic cancer is any cancer that starts in a woman's reproductive organs. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts. Gynecologic cancers begin in different places within a woman's pelvis, which is the area below the stomach and in-between the hip bones.
Five main types of cancer affect a woman's reproductive organs: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar. As a group, they are referred to as gynecologic cancer. A sixth type of gynecologic cancer is the very rare fallopian tube cancer.
Each gynecologic cancer is unique, with different signs and symptoms, different risk factors (things that may increase your chance of getting a disease), and different prevention strategies.
There is no way to know for sure if you will get a gynecologic cancer. That's why it is important to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you, so you can recognize the warning signs or symptoms.
If you experience unusual vaginal bleeding, talk to your gynecologist right away. You should also see a doctor if you have any other warning signs that last for two weeks or longer and are not normal for you. Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see a doctor.
Detection and Diagnosis
The purpose of diagnostic testing is to determine (diagnose) the cause of any symptoms you may be experiencing. We may also use diagnostic testing to determine whether you are at high risk of cancer.
Screening refers to a test designed to look for signs of disease before any symptoms take place. Cancer screening tests are most effective when they can detect cancer early, which can lead to more effective treatment.
Of all the gynecologic cancers, only cervical cancer has a screening test that can find signs of cancer early, when treatment is generally most effective. This screening test is known as the Pap test or Pap smear.
In addition, the human papillomavirus (HPV) test is used to detect HPV infection. HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease that can cause gynecologic cancer. A vaccine is now available to protect against the HPV strains that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.
Since there is no simple and reliable way to screen for any gynecologic cancers except cervical cancer, it is especially important to recognize the warning signs and take steps to reduce your risk. Talk with your doctor if you believe that you are at increased risk for gynecologic cancer and learn what you might do to lower your risk. To make an appointment with a Mount Sinai gynecologic oncologist, please contact us at 212-427-9898 or 212-241-1111.
To make an appointment with a Mount Sinai gynecologic oncologist
New patients, please download these forms, fill them out and bring them to your first appointment.
OBGYN Form Packet [PDF]
Dr. Herbert Gretz talks about the special skills and training of Mount Sinai gynecologic oncologists that make them so unique.