Gynaecological cancer information for patients

Diagnosing and treating women's cancers

Cancer

Symptoms

If your GP suspects that your symptoms may be due to cancer you will be given an appointment to see one of our specialists within two weeks. Symptoms can vary depending on the type of cancer.

  • Symptoms of ovarian cancer

    The symptoms of ovarian cancers can be vague and include:

    • pelvic or abdominal pain
    • bloating
    • reduced appetite or feeling full quickly
    • increased abdominal size
    • altered bowel habits
    • increased urge to pass urine more frequently.

    These symptoms are more commonly caused by less serious conditions, but if you experience one of these symptoms for up to 12 days out of a month, it is worth arranging to see your GP. If you are worried about ovarian cancer, it is important to mention it to your GP.

    Family history

    Around 5% of ovarian cancers happen because of an inherited gene. If you have family members who have had cancer you may be eligible for further investigations, particularly if:

    • you have two or more close family members (parent, aunt, uncle, sister, brother or grandparent) who have had breast and/or ovarian cancer

      and/or
    • the family member(s) had breast cancer found before the age of 50 
    • you have three or more relatives on the same side of your family with bowel, womb, prostate, stomach or ovarian cancer.
  • Symptoms of endometrial (womb lining) cancer

    Endometrial cancer often causes symptoms early on, including: 

    • post-menopausal bleeding (bleeding after you have gone through the menopause)
    • bleeding between periods and/or heavier periods than normal.

    You should always seek medical attention when you are having abnormal vaginal bleeding. However, bleeding between periods or having heavy periods is more commonly caused by benign (non-cancerous) problems.

    Family history

    The majority of endometrial cancers are not caused by an inherited gene. However, for a small number of families there can be a family link to this cancer, particularly where: 

    • three or more relatives on the same side of your family have been diagnosed with bowel, womb, prostate, stomach or ovarian cancer.
  • Symptoms of cervical (neck of womb) cancer

    • post-coital bleeding (bleeding after having sexual intercourse)
    • inter-menstrual bleeding (bleeding between periods)
    • post-menopausal bleeding (bleeding after you have gone through the menopause)
    • abnormal vaginal discharge.

    You should always seek medical attention if you are having abnormal vaginal bleeding. However, bleeding between periods or having heavy periods is more commonly caused by benign (non-cancerous) problems.

    There is an NHS National Cervical Screening Programme for women 25-65 years of age to have cervical screening every three years up to the age of 50 and every five years after that. It currently provides the best prevention of cervical cancer and ensures the early detection of any abnormalities.

  • Symptoms of cancer of the vulva 

    There are many benign (non-cancerous) causes for the symptoms below, but if you experience any of them, you should see your GP:

    • itchiness, burning, pain/discomfort of the vulva
    • an ulcer, swelling or lump that does not go away
    • changes to the texture/feel of the skin
    • changes to the colour of the skin
    • bleeding from the vulva or vagina.

    Family history

    There is no current evidence that a family history of cancer increases your risk of cancer of the vulva.

  • Symptoms of cancer of the vagina

    This type of cancer is very rare. Symptoms can include:

    • post-coital bleeding (bleeding after having sexual intercourse) 
    • inter-menstrual bleeding (bleeding between periods)
    • post-menopausal bleeding (bleeding after you have gone through the menopause)
    • pain in the vagina during sexual intercourse
    • vaginal discharge.

    Family history

    There is no current evidence that a family history of cancer increases your risk of cancer of the vagina.

  • Symptoms of cancer of the fallopian tube or peritoneum

    The symptoms can be vague and include:

    • pelvic or abdominal pain
    • bloating
    • reduced appetite or feeling full quickly
    • increased abdominal size
    • altered bowel habits
    • increased urge to pass urine more frequently.

    These symptoms are more commonly caused by less serious conditions, but if you experience one of these symptoms for up to 12 days out of a month, it is worth arranging to see your GP.

    Family history

    There is no current evidence that a family history of cancer increases your risk of cancer of the fallopian tube or of the peritoneum.

Your appointment

We recognise that coming into hospital for investigations or treatments can be a difficult time for you and those close to you, and we will make sure that you receive the best care and support possible.

Supporting you

You will be given the name of your key worker at your first clinic appointment. This will normally be a nurse who specialises in looking after patients with gynaecological cancer, called a clinical nurse specialist (CNS). Your CNS will offer you support and advice and will help you to access whatever help you may need.

There are a number of other health professionals in the team who may also be able to help you, either as an inpatient or as an outpatient. These include a:

    • radiographer
    • dietitian
    • physiotherapist
    • counsellor
    • psychologist
    • carers' support team
    • chaplain
 

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