A dose of hope for Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

September 30, 2022 Swedish Women's Health Team


In this article:

  • It's Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, which calls attention to cancers that affect 100,000 women each year.

  • When these cancers are found early, their cure rate is high.

  • The Swedish Gynecologic Oncology Program provides experienced specialists to guide you through cancer treatment.

100,000 women. That’s the American Cancer Society’s estimate for how many will be diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer each year. September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, a time to learn about your risk factors and schedule your recommended screenings. There are five types of gynecologic cancers: ovarian, endometrial/uterine, cervical, vulvar and vaginal.

The thought of gynecologic cancer is anxiety-provoking for many—especially those with a family history— but there are ways to be proactive around detection and prevention. In this article, you’ll find resources on the different kinds of gynecologic cancers and the services Swedish offers to fight them.

We'll also walk you through the types of screenings that can help the early identification and treatment of cancer.

The signs of ovarian cancer

The signs of ovarian cancer can be subtle. Things like persistent low back and pelvic pain, an increased need to urinate, or bloating can be early signs. Most of the time, these symptoms aren’t ovarian cancer. But if you do notice a change in symptoms or find yourself needing peace of mind, it’s always better to talk to your doctor. Don’t wait for your annual physical!

Learn the signs of ovarian cancer

Understanding ovarian cancer risk

When it comes to ovarian cancer, family history is the strongest risk factor. Up to 25% of ovarian cancers are genetic. If you have a personal or family history of breast, ovarian, primary peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancer, discuss your risk with your health care provider. If you are at high risk, you may be a candidate for genetic testing and cancer preventive interventions.  

Find out more about cancer genetic testing and counseling

Preventing cervical cancer

While cervical cancer is more preventable than other cancers, more than 4,200 women die every year from the disease. Cervical cancer screenings, known as Pap tests, are the best tool we have for catching this disease in its early stages. Read the article below to learn when to start screenings and how often you need one.

Learn more about cervical cancer screenings

The cancer-preventing vaccine

The CDC estimates that 70-90% of cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV.) It’s most often sexually transmitted, and it affects around 39% of women ages18-59. The HPV vaccine protects against the virus and is one of the few vaccines that can prevent cancer. It’s available to children as young as 11 or 12.

How to protect yourself from HPV

Warning signs of endometrial cancer 

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecological cancer among women in the US. It's typically found in its early stages and has good outcomes, but it can sometimes be more aggressive. Abnormal or irregular menopausal bleeding can be a symptom of this disease, along with unexplained weight loss. Vaginal bleeding after menopause is always abnormal and may be a sign of endometrial cancer.  Risk factors include obesity, age, diabetes, and inherited colon cancer syndromes. If you notice something that seems off, contact your medical provider.

Read more about signs and symptoms

Gynecological services under one roof

Whether it’s time for your yearly gynecologist visit or you need a procedure, our expert gynecological staff provides minimally invasive options for a shorter, easier recovery.

Gynecological oncology at Swedish

Personalized gynecological cancer care

If you or a loved one is facing a gynecological cancer diagnosis, we’re here for you. The Swedish Gynecologic Oncology Program provides specialized care for women with these types of cancers. Our team of experts will be with you through every step of treatment. In addition to doctors, our team includes nutrition specialists, counselors, genetic risk experts and other specialists who can give you the support you need.

Robotic-assisted surgery

Robotic-assisted surgery is a new technology that allows gynecological procedures to be even safer, more precise, and less invasive. Our surgeons are highly skilled at this type of surgery, and our patients love the quicker recovery time.

Robotic surgery FAQs

Gynecologic cancer is deeply personal. A new diagnosis can feel overwhelming. But take heart: Many types of gynecologic cancer have a high cure rate when caught early. Learn the signs and symptoms of each type of cancer and ask your doctor when you should get recommended screenings or diagnostic tests. Learn about your family health history so you can determine if you’re at high risk. Together, we can create better health outcomes for women.

Learn more and find a provider

If you are looking for a gynecologic oncologist, visit our Gynecology page.

Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction, and follow up as needed.

Join our Patient and Family Advisory Council.

Download the Swedish Health Connect app

We’re with you, wherever you are. Make Swedish’s app your one-stop shop for being proactive about your health. Schedule appointments, conduct virtual visits, message your doctor, view your health records, and more. Learn more and download the app.

Related resources

Women’s health: changes for every phase of life

A visionary initiative for early cancer detection

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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About the Author

Whether you are seeking gynecological advice, need help navigating your way through the menopause stage of life or researching a recent breast cancer diagnosis, the Swedish Women's Health Team is committed to helping women find the information they need to live happy and healthy lives.

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