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Gynaecological Cancers

These include:

Endometrial (Womb) cancer

Ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer

Cervical cancer

Vulval or vaginal cancer

Endometrial cancer

Affects approximately 5500 women every year in the UK.  Being overweight significantly increases the risk.  Endometrial cancer mainly affects women who have gone through the menopause.  The commonest symptom which may be a sign of endometrial cancer and should not be ignored, is bleeding after the menopause (post-menopausal bleeding or PMB).  Most cases of endometrial cancer present at an early stage and can be cured with a hysterectomy.  Occasionally, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are used after surgery to reduce the chances of the disease returning.

Ovarian cancer

Affects approximately 7000 women every year in the UK.  There are large trials underway looking at the value of screening for this disease using ultrasound or blood tests (CA125 measurement), but results are awaited to show if screening will be helpful or not.  Women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer may be more likely to develop ovarian cancer due to inherited genetic changes.  Ovarian cancer is rare in younger women.  It tends to present at a later stage as the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be very mild and easy to ignore.  These might include abdominal pain or swelling.  Treatment usually involves a combination of surgery to remove the disease together with chemotherapy.

Cervical cancer

Affects approximately 3000 women every year in the UK.  Due to the success of the cervical screening programme, this number has decreased over the last few years.  A vaccine has recently been introduced against the virus (HPV) that causes most cases of cervical cancer.  Early stages of cervical cancer can often be cured with surgery alone.  More advanced stages require a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  In some cases younger women who have not had a family may be treated with fertility sparing surgery in order to conserve the uterus.

Vulval cancer

This is a rare cancer mainly affecting elderly women, although there is an increasing rate of this cancer in younger women.  Surgery can usually cure early stages of the cancer.  This involves removal of part of the vulval skin, and in some cases, removal of the lymph glands in the groin area.  Occasionally radiotherapy is needed if the lymph glands contain cancer cells.

CancerBackup

Bath Place
Rivington Street
London EC2A 3JR
Tel: 0808 800 1234 (Mon-Fri – 9am-7pm)
www.cancerbackup.org.uk
They provide information on all aspects of cancer and its treatment and on pratical and emotional problems of living with cancer.

Macmillan Cancer Support

89 Albert Embankment
London SE1 7UQ
Tel: 0808 808 2020
www.macmillan.org.uk
They provide specialist advice and support through Macmillan nurses and doctors and financial grants for people with cancer and their families.

Jo’s Trust – Fighting Cervical Cancer         Pamela Morton         Tel: 01327 361787         A self-help e-mail support group         Email: Pamela@jotrust.co.uk         A charity dedicated to women, their families and friends affected by pre-cancer and cancer of the cervix.

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