Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later. Gynecologic cancer is any cancer that starts in a woman’s reproductive organs. There are five main types of gynecologic cancer: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar. They start in different places within a woman’s pelvis, which is the area below the stomach and in between the hip bones.
•Cervical cancer starts in the cervix, which is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. (The uterus is also called the womb.)
•Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which are located on each side of the uterus.
•Uterine cancer begins in the uterus, the pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvis where the baby grows when a woman is pregnant.
•Vaginal cancer begins in the vagina, which is the hollow, tube-like channel between the bottom of the uterus and the outside of the body.
•Vulvar cancer begins in the vulva, the outer part of the female genital organs.
Each gynecologic cancer is unique, with different signs and symptoms, different risk factors or things that may increase your chance of getting a disease, and different ways to prevent the disease. All women are at risk for gynecologic cancers, but these risks increase with age. Each year in the United States, more than9,000African American women are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer. More than 1 million American women are alive with a history of gynecologic cancer.
When gynecologic cancers are found early, treatment is very effective, so it is important for women to know the signs and symptoms for these cancers. CDC provides information and educational materials for women and health care providers to raise awareness about gynecologic cancers through the Inside Knowledge: Get the Facts about Gynecologic Cancer campaign. It encourages women to pay attention to their bodies and know what is normal for them, so they can recognize the warning signs of gynecologic cancers and get medical care.
Unfortunately, there are many women who are not yet aware of the signs and symptoms of these cancers. This is why we are asking for your help. REACH Media is partnering with CDC’s Inside Knowledge campaign to raise awareness about gynecologic cancer in the African American community.
If you or someone you know is one of the thousands of African American women who have had a gynecologic cancer, then you know just how much it can change your life. Your testimony of survival is powerful. Hearing your voice and your story could be the difference in someone’s life. If you or someone you know is a survivor of gynecologic cancer, think about sharing your story with us.
Please go to CDC’s Inside Knowledge website to learn more about gynecologic cancer and share your story.