Types of gynaecological cancers
Gynaecological cancers are named according to the organ or part of the body where they first develop – that is, the ovary, uterus, cervix, vagina or vulva:
- Ovarian cancer affects the ovaries, a pair of solid, oval-shaped organs producing hormones and eggs (ova).
- Uterine cancer begins in the main body of the uterus, a hollow organ about the size and shape of an upside-down pear. The uterus is where the baby grows when a woman is pregnant.
- Endometrial cancer is cancer that arises from the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium). It is the most common type of cancer of the uterus, and the most common gynaecological cancer diagnosed in Australian women.
- Cervical cancer begins in the cervix, the lower, cylinder-shaped part of the uterus. Its upper margin is connected to the uterus, while its lower margin is connected to the vagina.
- Vaginal cancer begins in the vagina (also called the birth canal), a muscular, tube-like channel that extends from the cervix to the external part of the female sex organs (vulva).
- Vulval cancer begins in the vulva, the outer part of the female reproductive system. The vulva includes the opening of the vagina, the inner and outer lips (also called labia minora and labia majora), the clitoris and the mons pubis (the soft, fatty mound of tissue above the labia).