Ovarian cancer is just one of many cancers that affect women. Learn more about other women’s cancers below.
- Breast Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Endometrial Cancer
- Primary Peritoneal Cancer
- Uterine Sarcoma
- Vaginal Cancer
- Vulvar Cancer
Breast cancer is cancer that starts in the breast. It is one of the most common types of cancer found in American women, and occurs very rarely in men. Women with breast cancer are also at higher risk for ovarian cancer. Fortunately, thanks to advancements in early detection and treatment, many women survive a breast cancer diagnosis.
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2020, about 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among women, as well as an estimated 48,530 additional cases of in situ breast cancer. In 2016, approximately 42,170 women are expected to die from breast cancer.
For detailed information about breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
Some people are confused about the differences between ovarian cancer and cervical cancer, and may even think that they are the same, or similar diseases. While they are both gynecologic cancers, they are distinguished by several differences.
They occur in different parts of the female reproductive system: cervical cancer is found in the cervix, which is the narrow, lower part of the uterus where it connects to the upper end of the vagina; ovarian cancer originates in the fallopian tubes and occurs in the ovaries, which are reproductive organs on each side of the uterus in the lower abdomen.
The confusion may be due, in part, to some similar symptoms shared between the two gynecologic cancers. Both ovarian cancer and cervical cancer can cause vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain, but the rest of the symptoms differ.
Cervical cancer symptoms also include increased vaginal discharge and pain during sex.
Ovarian cancer is a very complex disease with symptoms that are vaguer and not always gynecologic: a swollen or bloated abdomen; persistent pressure or pain in the abdomen or pelvis; difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; urinary urgency or frequency; and a change in bowel habits with new onset constipation and/or diarrhea.
Further confusion may be due to a common misunderstanding regarding the Pap test. The Pap test, which is part of a routine pelvic exam, is an effective diagnostic tool for OB/GYN physicians to detect cervical cancer, but it does not detect ovarian cancer. Cervical cancer is the only gynecologic cancer that can be prevented with routine screening. Currently, there is no screening method for ovarian cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2020, 13,800 women will find out they have invasive cervical cancer, and 4,290 women will die from cervical cancer.
For detailed information about cervical cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
Endometrial cancer is a cancer that starts in the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus. Nearly all cancers of the uterus start in the endometrium and are called endometrial carcinomas. Cancers can also start in the muscle layer or supporting connective tissue of the uterus. These cancers belong to the group of cancers called sarcomas
Endometrial Cancer usually develops slowly and most often occurs in post-menopausal women.
In the United States, cancer of the endometrium is the most common gynecologic cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2020 about 65,620 new cases of cancer of the body of the uterus will be diagnosed, and about 12,590 women will die from cancers of the uterine body.
These estimates include both endometrial cancers and uterine sarcomas.
Up to 10% of uterine body cancers are sarcomas, so the actual numbers for endometrial cancer cases and deaths are slightly lower than these estimates.
For detailed information about endometrial cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
Primary peritoneal cancer is a cancer of the peritoneum, which is a sheet of tissue the covers the organs of the abdominal cavity.
Primary peritoneal cancer is very rare. For detailed information, visit the American Cancer Society.
Sarcoma refers to cancer that occurs in tissues of the body such as bone, fat, or muscles. Uterine sarcoma is a rare cancer that develops in the tissues of the uterus. Cancer that forms in the inner lining of the uterus is called endometrial cancer, a different and more common disease, which is discussed here.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2020, 1,600 women will be diagnosed with uterine sarcomas.
For more detailed information about uterine sarcoma, visit the American Cancer Society.
Vaginal cancer is cancer that starts in the vagina, the tube that goes from the cervix (the lower part of the uterus) to open up at the vulva (the external genitals). About 70% of cases of vagina cancer are squamous cell carcinomas, which begin in the epithelial lining of the vagina.
Vaginal cancer is rare, affecting only 1 in 1,100 women. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2016 about 4,620 new cases of vaginal cancer will be diagnosed and 950 women will die from the disease.
For more detailed information about vaginal cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
Vulvar cancer is cancer that begins in the vulva, the outer part of the female genitals. It is a rare cancer that comprises about 4% of gynecologic cancers diagnosed in women.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates that in 2016 about 5,950 cancers of the vulva will be diagnosed and 1,110 women will die of this cancer.
For more detailed information about vulvar cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.