Gynaecological cancer

Gynaecological cancers are cancers of the female reproductive system that occur when abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled way.

The symptoms of gynaecological cancers depend on where the tumour is situated, the size of the tumour and how quickly it is growing.


  • Symptoms that may be caused by gynaecological cancers include:
    • abnormal or persistent vaginal bleeding – for example, bleeding after menopause, bleeding that is not part of menstrual periods, or bleeding after sex
    • unusual vaginal discharge
    • pain, pressure or discomfort in the abdomen
    • swelling of the abdomen
    • change in bowel or bladder habits
    • pain during sex
    • itching, burning or soreness
    • lumps, sores or wart-like growths.

    There are a number of conditions that may cause these symptoms. If any of these symptoms are experienced, it is important that they are discussed with a doctor.


  • How are gynaecological cancers diagnosed?Diagnosis of a gynaecological cancer may involve a number of tests, including:
    • a physical examination, with a pelvic examination
    • a Pap smear
    • blood tests such as a CA125 test
    • imaging tests – these may include a transvaginal ultrasound or a computed tomography (CT) scan; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans may also be suggested.
    • taking a sample of tissue (biopsy) for examination under a microscope.

    Treatment options

    Treatment and care of women with gynaecological cancers is usually provided by a team of health professionals – called a multidisciplinary team.

    Treatment for gynaecological cancers depends on the stage and type of the disease, the severity of symptoms and the woman’s general health. Treatment often involves surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, and to determine its stage (how far the cancer may have spread). Radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormonal therapies may also be used.

    Research is ongoing to find new ways to diagnose and treat different types of cancer. Some women may be offered the option of participation in a clinical trial to test new ways of treating their gynaecological cancer.

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