Cancers We Treat Finding Gynecologic Cancer Early

A female breast cancer patient looks toward her nurse navigator.

UNDERSTANDING GYNECOLOGIC CANCER Early Detection

Your best defense against cancer is to find it early when treatment is most effective. Gynecologic cancer comes in several forms. Each form of gynecologic cancer comes with its own symptoms, risk factors and treatment plans.

Cervical cancer is the only form of gynecologic cancer with a reliable screening test. Other forms of gynecologic cancer, like ovarian cancer, are much harder to detect. That’s why it’s vitally important to know the signs and symptoms and see your doctor regularly.

At Baptist MD Anderson, we’re committed to MD Anderson’s model of outstanding patient care, research, prevention and education. Our goal is to bring world-renowned cancer care to the Southeast and make cancer history.

DETECTING CANCER EARLY Gynecologic Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of gynecologic cancer vary. Some individuals may never experience any symptoms. Others have very vague symptoms that are difficult to pinpoint to a particular form of cancer. Keep in mind, some of these symptoms are also common in women who do not have cancer. See your doctor if you have the following symptoms on a daily basis for more than a few weeks:

ovarian

  • Abnormal menstrual cycles
  • Back pain for unknown reasons that worsens over time
  • Bloating or swollen belly area
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Digestive symptoms, such as no appetite, indigestion, nausea and vomiting, constipation, and increased gas
  • Excessive hair growth that is coarse and dark
  • Needing to urinate more often than usual (increased urinary frequency or urgency )
  • Pelvic or lower abdominal pain. The area may feel "heavy" (pelvic heaviness)
  • Sudden urge to urinate
  • Vaginal bleeding that occurs between periods
  • Weight gain or loss

Primary peritoneal

  • Abdominal discomfort or pain from gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating, or cramps
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Loss of appetite or feeling full quickly
  • Digestive issues like nausea, diarrhea or constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss

Fallopian

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, especially after menopause
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain or pressure
  • Unusual vaginal discharge that is white, clear or tinged with pink
  • A mass in the pelvic region

Endometrial/Uterine

  • Abnormal bleeding from the vagina, including bleeding between periods or spotting/bleeding after menopause
  • Lower abdominal pain or pelvic cramping
  • Extremely long, heavy, or frequent episodes of vaginal bleeding after age 40

Cervical

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause
  • Vaginal discharge that does not stop, and may be pale, watery, pink, brown, bloody, or foul-smelling
  • Periods that become heavier and last longer than usual

Vaginal

  • Bleeding after having sex
  • Painless vaginal bleeding and discharge not due to normal period
  • Pain in the pelvis or vagina

Vulvar

  • Changes in skin
  • Mole or freckle, which may be pink, red, white, or gray
  • Skin thickening or lump
  • Skin sore (ulcer)
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Unusual odor

Gestational Trophoblastic Disease/ Choriocarcinoma

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Anemia
  • Enlargement of the Ovaries
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Pelvic pain or pressure
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding
  • Vomiting

ASSESSING YOUR RISK What is a Risk Factor?

Risk factors are genes, lifestyle choices, conditions or exposures that may increase someone’s risk for developing cancer.

At Baptist MD Anderson, we offer genetic counseling services. Genetic counseling helps assess if you or your family have any inherited cancer syndromes or cancer predisposition. If you or your family have any of the following in you or your family’s medical history, we offer support. Our gynecologic cancer experts can provide your with a risk assessment and cancer prevention counseling.

General Risk Factors of Gynecologic Cancers

Here are a few common and general risk factors for gynecologic cancers:

  • Persistent HPV infection
  • Smoking
  • Age (60+)
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Taking estrogen alone without progesterone
  • Diabetes or high blood glucose
  • Late menopause
  • Family history of ovarian, breast, or colon cancer
  • Infertility or not bearing children
  • Having had breast cancer

A female physician goes through the Baptist MD Anderson patient binder with a female patient.

GET AHEAD OF CERVICAL CANCER Your Care Starts with Screening

Screening is your greatest weapon against cervical cancer. Screening improves your chances of finding cancer early when it is easier to treat. Cervical cancer is the only gynecologic cancer screening currently available. Make sure to schedule regular Pap test appointments to detect any changes in your health or detect early signs of cancer.

Contact Us

If you have any questions, we have you covered. We have nurse navigators available to guide you through every step of your care. Request an appointment or speak to a nurse navigator by phone or online.

OUR LOCATION Gynecologic Cancer Clinic

Within our specialized clinics we bring our team of experts together to care for your mind, body and spirit. Each of our clinics are singularly focused on your specific needs and treatment.

Need Directions? The gynecologic cancer clinic is located in the main Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center on Floor 7 of our cancer center.

For screening and prevention, services are located across the street:

An exterior photo of Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Find a Doctor

Our care team brings medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons and other specialists together for each patient.

FOR WHATEVER STEP IS NEXT, Baptist MD Anderson is Here for You

Wherever you are in your journey, we’re here to help you in your fight against cancer. Our team of experts can help you navigate the whirlwind of emotions and decisions through every aspect of your care.

"Did you know genetic testing can help treat certain types of cancers early, especially ovarian and breast cancer?"

Learn more about genetic counseling services at Baptist MD Anderson.