What is gynaecological cancer?

Gynaecological cancers are cancers that occur in the female reproductive system. These cancers occur when abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled way and are named based on the organ or part of the body where they first develop.1 The ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus (womb), cervix (neck of the uterus), vagina (birth canal), and vulva (external genitals) are all parts of the female reproductive system.2

Potential risk factors for gynaecological cancers

Risk factors associated with developing gynaecological cancers may include:1

  • Older age
  • Family history
  • Certain gene mutations
  • A previous cancer, such as breast cancer or bowel cancer
  • Reproductive history
  • Exposure to hormones produced by the body or taken as medication
  • Exposure to diethylstilboestrol (DES) in the womb
  • Viral infection including human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Lifestyle factors, such as being overweight or smoking

If you have one or more of these risk factors, it does not necessarily mean that you will develop gynaecological cancer. For more information about risk factors, you should speak with your GP or specialist.1

Symptoms of gynaecological cancer

Symptoms associated with gynaecological cancer can vary depending on the location of tumour, as well as its size and how fast it is growing. Symptoms of gynaecological cancer may include:1

  • Abnormal or ongoing vaginal bleeding
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Abdominal swelling, pain, pressure, or discomfort
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Change in bladder or bowel habits
  • Pain during sex
  • Itching, burning, or soreness in the pelvic region
  • Lumps, sores, or wart-like growths in the pelvic region

There may be different reasons why you are experiencing any of these symptoms. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with your GP or specialist.1

Types of gynaecological cancer

Learn more about different types of gynaecological cancer.

Find a centre near you


This website is provided for information purposes only. Nothing on this website is intended to be used as medical advice, or to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It should not be used as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.

Any medical procedure or treatment involving the use of radiation carries risks, including skin irritation and associated pain. Before proceeding with treatment, you should discuss the risks and benefits of the treatment with an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Individual treatment outcomes and experiences will vary.