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About Gynae Cancers

Gynae cancers affect the female reproductive organs. Any diagnosis of cancer causes anxiety and fear about the future, but for many women, a diagnosis of gynaecological cancer causes additional concerns about issues such as body image, sexuality and fertility.

The female reproductive organs are:

  • Uterus
  • Cervix
  • Ovaries
  • Vulva
  • Vagina
  • Fallopian tubes

In addition, cancers of the placenta or afterbirth are also considered to be gynae cancers

Female reproductive system

Unless diagnosed before they have spread to lymph nodes or other organs, gynaecological cancers, even when well treated, typically have a very poor outcome.

1 in every 250 women alive today is living with a diagnosis of gynaecological cancer.

Gynaecological cancers and their treatment cause major psychosexual problems for women and there are often associated concerns about body image. When these cancers affect premenopausal women, they cause premature menopause and infertility.

 

Survival Rates

Overall 5-year survival for all gynae cancers combined is 68%, ranging from about 43% for ovarian cancer to about 82% for uterine cancer.

Image: © 2009 Terese Winslow, U.S. Govt. has certain rights 

Ovarian Cancer

In the last three decades, ovarian cancer 5 year survival has only improved from 32% to 43%. Ovarian cancer is the ninth most commonly diagnosed cancer and the sixth most common cause of cancer death among Australian women. 10 year survival is not improving and, at 34%, remains far worse than for breast cancer (83%) and other cancers commonly affecting women.

Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer is the most common gynaecological cancer. Diagnosis rates are steadily increasing with 2500 new cases diagnosed per year. This is expected to rise to 2830 by the year 2020.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is far from defeated by new cancer limiting HPV vaccination and screening, with the number of new cases predicted to rise from 850 per year to 915 in 2020.

Other Gynae Cancers

Vulval cancers, vaginal cancers and other types of gynae cancer affect smaller numbers of women, but cause untold suffering, not least because they are embarrassing to talk about and tend to cause isolation.

All forms of gynaecological cancer have proven harder to prevent and treat well when they occur in remote communities and in culturally and linguistically diverse groups such as migrant women and indigenous women.