Early symptoms of gynecologic cancers

Continuing with our effort, as a an online medical store to inform you about different conditions, we bring to you the symptoms of Gynecologic Cancers.  The worst of the early symptoms of gynecologic cancers is not knowing what gynecologic cancers are. That is the reason that the Foundation for Women’s Cancer brings us the Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month during September. Now, one may argue that grouping several different forms of cancer under a single umbrella term does little to differentiate one from the others. However, this can actually serve the purpose of enlightening people as to the fact that there are more than one types of cancer that can affect the female reproductive organs. And while the symptoms do vary, they also overlap sometimes – making it a necessity to establish not only that a woman has a form of gynecologic cancer, but also which type exactly it is, in order to establish as well a proper course of treatment.

There are 5 types of gynecologic cancers:

  1. Cervical cancer starts in the lower part of the uterus, the cervix.
  2. Ovarian cancer starts in the ovaries, found on either side of the uterus.
  3. Uterine cancer starts in the pear-shaped uterus in the pelvis.
  4. Vaginal cancer starts in the vagina.
  5. Vulvar cancer starts in the outer part of the female genitals including the vagina, the clitoris, and the opening of the vagina and its glands, known as the vulva.

Each of these cancers has their own symptoms and signs, though some are shared between two or more types.

Symptoms of gynecologic cancers

Cervical cancer

  • Vaginal bleeding following intercourse, in between periods, or after menopause.
  • Watery, bloody vaginal discharge – possibly heavy and with a foul odor.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Pain during intercourse.

Ovarian cancer

  • Swelling or bloating in the abdomen.
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge.
  • Feeling full right after eating.
  • Loss of weight.
  • Pelvic discomfort.
  • Changes in bowel habits.
  • Increase in frequency of urination.
  • Back pain.

Uterine cancer

  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause.
  • Bleeding in between periods.
  • Abnormal, watery, or bloody vaginal discharge.
  • Pain during intercourse.

Vaginal cancer

  • Abnormal or heavy vaginal bleeding after menopause or following intercourse.
  • Watery discharge from the vagina.
  • A lump or mass in the vagina.
  • Pain while urinating.
  • Constipation.
  • Pain in the pelvis.
  • Blood in the stool or urine.
  • Going to the bathroom more often.
  • Constipation.

Vulvar cancer

  • Persistent itching, burning, or bleeding on the vulva.
  • Pain and tenderness.
  • Bleeding not from menstruation.
  • Changes in the skin color of the vulva.
  • Thickening of the vulvar skin.
  • A lump, bumps resembling warts, or an open sore on the vulva.
  • Pelvic pain, in particular when urinating or during intercourse.

In the following table we can see more clearly how the early symptoms of gynecologic cancers may intersect with one another.









Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge






Pelvic pain or pressure






Abdominal or back pain












Changes in bathroom habits






Itching or burning of the vulva






Changes in vulva color or skin






How to reduce the risk of developing a gynecologic cancer

  • HPV vaccine. A vaccine can provide protection against the human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted infection and a risk factor for some gynecologic cancers. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys aged 11 and 12 (preferably three doses before their first sexual contact), though it can be administered as early as age 9. If you – or rather your parents – failed to get the vaccination at those ages, you can also get it between the ages of 13 and 26.
  • Screening. Unfortunately, only cervical cancer has a screening test, known as the Pap test. During this test, a doctor uses a speculum to look for cell changes on the cervix called pre-cancers. Additionally, an HPV test looks for signs of a HPV infection. Both tests can be performed simultaneously in women aged 30 and older.

Treatment for gynecologic cancers

  • Surgery

The surgical removal of cancerous tissue.

  • Chemotherapy

Drugs that reduce the size of the cancer or kill it.

  • Radiation

High energy rays to kill the cancer.


Related Read:

- Early symptoms of uterine cancer

- Early Symptoms of Cervical Cancer