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Home » News » Understanding the Different Types of Gynecological Cancer

Understanding the Different Types of Gynecological Cancer

September 7, 2021
Female Reproductive System

Gynecological cancers affect the cells and cell linings of organs and tissues throughout the female reproductive system. Several different types of gynecological cancer originate in this system, and they are named for the organs or tissues that they affect. Richmond University Medical Center, located in Staten Island, New York, provides information about the different types of gynecological cancers, as well as their symptoms.

Cervical Cancer

The cervix prevents foreign pathogens from entering the uterus, and it is comprised of the endocervix (the opening that leads to the uterus) and ectocervix (the part of the cervix that is visible during gynecological exams). Cervical cancer develops in the cell lining of the transformation zone, which is where the two parts of the cervix meet. As cervical cancer progresses, the tissue lining the transformative zone will appear increasingly abnormal. The main symptom related to cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding and/or discharge.

Ovarian Cancer

The ovaries are responsible for the production of three types of female sex cells used in reproduction. Ovarian cancers are named for these cells and include the following types:

  • Epithelial: These tumors cover the outermost lining of the ovary.
  • Germ cell: These tumors develop in the ova, which produce eggs.
  • Stromal: These tumors develop in the tissue of structural cells that produce estrogen and progesterone.

Some tumors grow rapidly and spread cancer cells (malignant tumors), while others are simply abnormal cell growths (benign). A physician may also find a borderline tumor, which is an abnormal cell growth that has a small chance of being malignant. Symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

  • Abnormal bleeding and discharge
  • Bloating
  • Incontinence
  • Pain in the abdomen or back
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvis

Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer, or endometrial cancer, affects the lining of the uterus. The subtypes of uterine cancer include:

  • Adenoacanthoma: This type moves from the outer lining of the organ tissue into the blood vessels.
  • Adenocarcinoma: This type attacks the glandular cells found in the uterine lining.
  • Adenosquamous: This type targets the glandular cells in the uterus and the smaller cell tissue lining the uterus.
  • Ciliated carcinoma: This type causes sheets of cells to attach to the cilia (hair-like organelles on human cells).
  • Secretory carcinoma: This type targets the cells in a gland that secretes bodily fluid.
  • Serous carcinoma: This rare form of uterine cancer attacks the lining of the uterus.
  • Small cell carcinoma: This is an aggressive type of cancer that is known to travel to other organs (metastasis).
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This type targets the flat cells lining hollow organs.
  • Uterine carcinosarcoma (CS): This type attacks the cells in the uterus and its connective tissue.
  • Villoglandular adenocarcinoma: This type targets the cells in the uterine lining.

Symptoms related to uterine cancer include abnormal discharge and/or bleeding, and sensations of pain and pressure in your pelvic region.

Vaginal Cancer

This is a rare form of cancer that develops into one of four types:

  • Adenocarcinoma: This type attacks the glandular cells found in the vaginal cavity.
  • Melanoma: This type develops along the back of the vaginal wall.
  • Sarcoma: This type develops on the vaginal walls.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This type targets the flat cells lining hollow organs.

Vaginal cancer causes abnormal bleeding and/or discharge, and urinary incontinence.

Vulvar Cancer

Vulvar cancer develops along the inner edge of the labia majora and labia minora, and symptoms include pain, tenderness, itching, and burning sensations. The different types of vulvar cancer include:

  • Adenocarcinoma: This type targets vulvar sweat glands.
  • Basal cell carcinoma: This type attacks basal cells, which produce new skin cells.
  • Melanoma: This type grows on the skin of the vulva, often causing skin discoloration.
  • Sarcoma: This type spreads quickly and can affect other organs.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This type attacks the flat, scale-like cells on the vulva.

For more information about the different forms and treatment options for gynecological cancer, contact Richmond University Medical Center today.