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The Cancer Institute at Good Samaritan - Gynecologic Cancer

Each gynecologic cancer is unique, with different signs, symptoms, risk factors and prevention strategies. Every year, more than 80,000 women in the U.S. are told they have a gynecologic cancer, and more than 25,000 women die from the disease. Good Samaritan offers gynecologic cancer patients the technology, expertise and high quality, compassionate care they have come to expect. The five main types of gynecological cancer are:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar cancer

Signs & Symptoms

All women are at risk for gynecologic cancers and risk increases with age. Gynecological cancers often cause no symptoms or subtle symptoms and there are no reliable screening tests for many of these diseases. That's why it is important for patients to pay attention to their bodies and know what's normal for them.

If a patient notices any unexplained signs or symptoms that last for two weeks or longer, they should talk to their Good Samaritan cancer team or physician. Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know for certain is to see a health care provider.

SymptomsCervical CancerOvarian CancerUterine CancerVaginal CancerVulvar Cancer
Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding or DischargeXXXX
Pelvic Pain or PressureXXX
Abdominal or Back PainX
Changes in Bathroom HabitsXX

Itching or Burning of the Vulva

Changes in Vulva Color or Skin, Such as a Rash Sores or Warts

*Chart provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention


Some gynecologic cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted infection. A vaccine protects against the HPV types that most often cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers. While it is recommended for 11- and 12-year-old girls, the vaccine can be given to girls beginning at age nine. Ideally, girls should receive three doses of this vaccine while they are young. It also can be given to girls and women who are 13–26 years old who did not get any or all of the shots early on.

Of all the gynecologic cancers, the only cancer for which screening is recommended is cervical. The Pap test screens for cervical cancer and can find it early, when treatment can be most effective. The Pap test also helps prevent cervical cancer by finding precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. The Pap test only checks for cervical cancer. It does not check for ovarian, uterine, vaginal, or vulvar cancers.


da Vinci® Robotic-assisted Surgical System

By combining the efficacy of open surgery with a minimally invasive approach, the da Vinci® surgical system offers many patients greater value. The robotic device has been used in a wide range of specialties and has proven to reduce the need for blood transfusions, shorten operations, minimize the risk of hospital-acquired conditions, and lower complication rates. Good Samaritan is committed to providing the highest quality health care on the south shore of Long Island and has incorporated the da Vinci® robotic-assisted surgical system into both its bariatric and gynecologic surgery programs.

For women, the da Vinci® surgical system offers superior results in gynecologic surgeries. Patients are able to return to normal activities faster than conventional surgery. The da Vinci® surgical system provides excellent patient satisfaction and a proven track record and is the number one surgical treatment option for women diagnosed with gynecological cancer. Through the da Vinci® surgical system, often complex procedures are now performed through just a few tiny incisions.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the size of an almond — produce eggs (ova) as well as the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is difficult to treat. Good Samaritan offers early ovarian cancer treatments through robotic-assisted hysterectomy, using laparoscopic instruments passed through small incisions. Abdominal hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the uterus through an incision in the lower abdomen. The uterus — or womb — is where a baby grows when pregnant. Sometimes a hysterectomy includes removal of one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes. Hysterectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures among women, with more than 150,000 lifesaving da Vinci® robotic-assisted procedures annually.


Vulvar Cancer

Vulvar cancer is a type of cancer that occurs on the outer surface area of the female genitalia. Vulvar cancer commonly forms as a lump or sore on the vulva that often causes itching. Though it can occur at any age, vulvar cancer is most commonly diagnosed in older women.
Treatment usually involves surgery to remove the cancer and a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue. Sometimes vulvar cancer surgery requires removing the entire vulva. The earlier this cancer is diagnosed, the less likely an extensive surgery is needed for treatment

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cases of cervical cancer.
When exposed to HPV, a woman's immune system typically prevents the virus from doing harm. In a small group of women, however, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cells on the surface of the cervix to become cancer cells. The death rate from cervical cancer is declining, thanks in part to screening.

Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the uterus. The uterus is the hollow, pear-shaped pelvic organ in women where fetal development occurs. Endometrial cancer begins in the layer of cells that form the lining (endometrium) of the uterus. Endometrial cancer is sometimes called uterine cancer. Other types of cancer can form in the uterus, but they are much less common than endometrial cancer.
Endometrial cancer is often detected at an early stage because it frequently produces abnormal vaginal bleeding, which prompts women to see their doctors. If endometrial cancer is discovered early, removing the uterus surgically (hysterectomy) often eliminates all of the cancer.

Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal cancer is a rare cancer that occurs in the vagina — the muscular tube that connects your uterus with the outer genitals. Vaginal cancer most commonly occurs in the cells that line the surface of your vagina, which is sometimes called the birth canal. While several cancers can spread to the vagina from other places in the body, cancer that begins in the vagina (primary vaginal cancer) is rare. Women with early-stage vaginal cancer have the best chance for a cure. Vaginal cancer that spreads beyond the vagina is much more difficult to treat.