Diagnosing gynecologic cancer

When gynecologic cancer strikes, it takes a toll on both your physical and emotional health. Even though gynecologic cancer is treatable, treatments can have serious side effects including fatigue, hair loss and fertility problems.

It's important to see your doctor right away if you have unusual symptoms that could be a sign of gynecologic cancer. These include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding

  • Pelvic pain or pressure

  • Bloating, abdominal distension or loss of appetite

  • Changes in bathroom habits (such as urinary frequency or urgency)

  • Vulvar itching or burning

  • A rash, sores or warts in your vulvar area

The more quickly you are diagnosed, the more quickly you can be treated, and fewer treatments may be required.

Gynecologic cancer screening and prevention

All women are at risk for gynecologic cancer. But, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk—especially for cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers – beginning at age 21. These include:

  • Getting Pap tests every three years - also known as a Pap smear, this simple lab test detects cervical cancer at its earliest, "pre-cancer" stage.

  • Taking steps to avoid HPV infection - strategies include getting the HPV vaccine before your first sexual contact (up to age 26). HPV infection is closely linked to cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancer later in life. HPV tests are now a part of Pap tests for women ages 30 to 64 and could be started as early as 21 depending on test results.

State-of-the-art diagnostic tools

Our cancer specialists use many tools to diagnose gynecologic cancer. If you are diagnosed with gynecologic cancer, your doctor may need to perform tests understand where it is and how best to treat it.  These tests may include:

  • Blood tests, such as CA125 levels and other tumor markers

  • Imaging studies, such as ultrasound, CT, MRI or PET-CT scans

  • Directed biopsy in the office or in conjunction with a radiologist

  • Genetic testing as indicated

Even if you were not diagnosed early, there is still hope. We offer the latest treatments, even for cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.