While all women are at risk for gynecologic cancer, some factors can increase your risk. By understanding the risk factors for each of these types of cancers, you take an important step toward maintaining your gynecologic health.
You can reduce your risk of getting gynecologic cancer by adopting a healthy lifestyle, paying attention to how your body looks and feels, and having regular exams and recommended screening tests.
Cancer of the cervix is found most often in women older than 40, but it can occur at any age. Specific risk factors for cervical cancer include
Endometrial and uterine cancer is rare in women younger than 40 years old. It most often occurs in women between the ages of 60 and 75 years. You are at increased risk for these types of cancers if you:
Primary fallopian tube cancer is the most rare of all gynecologic cancers. This type of cancer occurs most often in women between 60 and 64 years of age; however, it can continue to occur in women up to their mid-80s. Risk factors for this type of cancer are not very well understood. Though fallopian tube cancer occurs more often among Caucasian women than among Black women.
One of the most important risk factors for ovarian cancer is family history. Be sure and let your doctor know if you have a mother, sister, or maternal aunt who has been diagnosed with this type of cancer.
Women of any age can have cancer of the ovary, but the risk increases with age. Women who have had several children are less likely to get ovarian cancer, as are women who have used or are now using oral contraceptives.
Specific risk factors include:
Women of any age can have cancer of the vulva or vagina; however, invasive cancers of this area most often occur in women older than 60 years of age. Some types of vulvar and vaginal cancer are linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Risk factors for vulvar cancer include:
You may be at risk for vaginal cancer if you were born between 1938 and 1971 and your mother took DES when she was pregnant with you. DES was prescribed during this time to help prevent miscarriages.