Gynecologic oncology in San Antonio
Gynecologic cancer is any cancer that begins in a woman's reproductive organs. At Methodist Healthcare, our specialists provide compassionate care and support for women who are experiencing a gynecologic cancer diagnosis.
For more information about our gynecologic cancer services, please call askSARAH at (210) 507-0941.
We provide cancer care for a variety of gynecologic cancers. Our specialists in gynecology care encourage women to visit their doctor at least once a year for a well-woman exam, especially if you are sexually active. Early detection of gynecologic cancers can enhance your treatment options as well as improve your chances of survival.
Types of gynecologic cancer
There are several major types of cancer within the female reproductive system, including:
Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries. The female reproductive system contains two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries produce eggs as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Without early detection, ovarian cancer often goes unnoticed until it has reached the pelvis and abdomen. At this stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat. When caught early (while the cancer is only within the ovary), it is more likely to be successfully treated.
Ovarian cancer symptoms
When ovarian cancer is in its early stage, it rarely causes any symptoms. Ovarian cancer that has progressed may cause few and non-specific symptoms that can be mistaken for more common conditions.
Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Abdominal bloating or swelling
- Quickly feeling full when eating
- Weight loss
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
- Frequent urination
Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow part of the uterus that connects the uterus with the vagina. It is the outlet of the uterus through which menstruation flows and babies are delivered. Normally, the cells of the cervix divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing in an unregulated manner, a mass of tissue forms. This mass is called a tumor.
Cervical cancer comes in two major forms:
- Squamous cell cancer: Arises from the cells on the outermost portion of the cervix that connects with the vagina
- Adenocarcinoma: Arises from the gland cells that are found in the inner lining of the cervical canal
Cervical cancer screening
Pap smears are largely responsible for the significant decline in deaths from cervical cancer over the past 30 to 40 years. Despite this success, 11,270 women in the U.S. still learn they have cervical cancer each year.
Squamous cancer is more common than adenocarcinoma. Many cases of squamous cancer are associated with infection with a virus (human papillomavirus or HPV), which, in addition to increasing the risk for cervical cancer, causes changes in the cells of the cervix. These changes can be detected by a Pap smear and indicate an increased risk for developing cervical cancer.
A vaccine has recently been developed to protect against infection by some (but not all) of the HPV strains associated with cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer symptoms
Early-stage cervical cancer tends to show no symptoms. However, once the cancer becomes more advanced, patients may experience:
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause
- Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
Uterine or endometrial cancer
Uterine cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the uterus (womb). The uterus is a pear-shaped organ vital to childbearing.
Uterine cancer occurs when cells in the body (in this case uterus cells) divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue (tumor) forms.
The walls of the uterus are made up of the endometrium (the inner lining) and the myometrium (the muscular, outer lining). The most common type of cancer of the uterus begins in the endometrium.
Endometrial cancer is the most common female reproductive tract cancer. However, endometrial cancer rarely occurs in women 40 years old and younger. The risk of developing it increases with age.
There are different types of endometrial cancers. All of these tumors involve the glandular cells. The most common type is endometrioid adenocarcinomas. The other types, papillary serous adenocarcinomas and clear cell adenocarcinomas, grow and spread more rapidly than endometrioid adenocarcinomas.
Types of uterine cancers
95 percent of uterine cancers are endometrial cancers. Other, more rare types of uterine cancers include:
- Stromal sarcomas, which develop in the stroma or connective tissue
- Carcinosarcomas or malignant mixed mesodermal tumors, which combine characteristics of endometrial cancer and sarcomas
- Leiomyosarcomas, which begin in the myometrium (muscle wall of the uterus)
Uterine cancer symptoms
Typical uterine cancer symptoms include:
- Unusual vaginal discharge that does not have signs of blood
- Difficult or painful urination
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain and/or a mass in the pelvic area
- Unintentional (or unexplained) weight loss
About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute
Methodist Healthcare is part of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare. Our family of hospitals provides comprehensive cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for people facing cancer in our communities. From diagnosis, to treatment and survivorship care, our oncology expertise ensures you have access to locally-trusted care with the support of a globally-recognized network.
Have cancer questions? We can help. askSARAH is a dedicated helpline for your cancer-related questions. Our specially-trained nurses are available 24/7 and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at (210) 507-0941 or chat online at askSARAHnow.com.