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This article is part of the supplement: Women's Health Surveillance Report

Open Access Report

Other Gynecologic Cancers: endometrial, ovarian, vulvar and vaginal cancers

Eliane Duarte-Franco1* and Eduardo L Franco2

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Oncology and Family Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

2 Departments of Oncology and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

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BMC Women's Health 2004, 4(Suppl 1):S14  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-4-S1-S14

Published: 25 August 2004


Health issue

In Canada, cancers of the endometrium, ovaries, vulva, vagina, placenta and adnexa account for 11% of all malignant neoplasms in women and 81% of all genital cancers. Although the incidence and mortality from vulvar and vaginal cancers are very low, endometrium and ovarian cancer are important public health problems.

Key findings

In Canada, there has been no appreciable improvement in survival for women with advanced endometrial (EC) or ovarian cancer (OC) over the past 30 years. The prognosis of EC is good for most patients because diagnosis is made at early stages. However, survival of OC is poor; more than 70% of cases are diagnosed at late stages. Up to 10% of OCs is linked to familial aggregation. Cancers of the vulva and of the vagina are very rare. The survival experience for women with the latter is worse than for those with the former. Both share many risk factors with cervical cancer and the recent developments in the study of HPV infection should be applicable to these diseases as well. Of particular interest will be the advent of vaccines for the primary prevention of HPV infection.

Data gaps and recommendations

At present, the best available means to diagnose gynecologic malignancies is a detailed clinical examination, considering the totality of information on potential and proven risk factors, such as age, reproductive health, sexual practices, use unopposed estrogens or of oral contraceptives or tubal ligation, obesity, diet, smoking, and the familial clustering of some of these cancers.