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September is National Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month! Gynecologic cancers are cancers that start in a woman's reproductive organs. The five main types are cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar.
All women are at risk for gynecologic cancers, and risk increases with age. There is no way to know which women will get a gynecologic cancer. That's why it is important to pay attention to your body and know what's normal for you, so you can recognize the symptoms of gynecologic cancer.
If you notice any unexplained signs or symptoms that last for two weeks or longer, talk to your doctor. Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know for certain is to see a health care provider.
Some gynecologic cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection. A vaccine protects against the HPV types that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.
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 HPV test looks for HPV infection. It may be used with the Pap test to screen women aged 30–65 years, or for women of any age who have unclear Pap test results. Learn more about the Pap and HPV tests.
The Pap test only checks for cervical cancer. It does not check for ovarian, uterine, vaginal, or vulvar cancers.
The Inside Knowledge: Get the Facts About Gynecologic Cancer campaign raises awareness about the five main types of gynecologic cancer: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar. The campaign produces educational materials in English and Spanish.