Gynecological cancer occurs when certain cells within the female reproductive organs grow in an uncontrolled, abnormal, manner. These organs include the cervix, ovaries and uterus.
Cervical cancer forms in the tissues of the cervix, the organ that connects the uterus and vagina. Cervical cancer growth often has no symptoms, however, it can be detected with a Pap test. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 88,000 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and nearly 30,000 will die from the disease in 2011.
Ovarian cancer is a rare cancer that begins in the ovaries, the egg-producing female reproductive organs. There are two types of ovarian cancer — germ cell and stromal cell. Germ cell cancer starts in the cells that form eggs in the ovary and stromal cell cancer begins in the cells that produce female hormones and hold the ovarian tissues together. The National Cancer Institute estimated that there would be 21,880 new cases of ovarian cancer in the United States in 2010 and 13,850 deaths from the disease.
Uterine or endometrial cancer forms in the tissue lining of the uterus, the pear-shaped organ where a fetus develops. In the most common type of uterine cancer, called endometrial adenocarcinoma, cancer begins in the cells that make and release mucus and other fluids. In uterine sarcomas, malignant cells form in the muscle of the uterus or in the uterine lining. Uterine sarcomas are much less common than endometrial cancer, accounting for fewer than five percent of all uterine cancers. However, they are much more aggressive and can spread quickly to other sites. For 2010, the National Cancer Institute estimated 43,470 new cases of uterine cancer and 7,950 deaths from the disease.
The molecular imaging technologies currently being used for gynecological cancers are positron emission tomography (PET) scanning and PET in conjunction with computer-aided tomography (CT) scanning (PET-CT).
How is PET used for gynecological cancers?
Physicians use PET and PET-CT studies to:
What are the advantages of PET studies for gynecological cancer patients?
What is the future of molecular imaging and gynecological cancers?
There are many new and emerging molecular imaging technologies that may benefit people with ovarian cancer, including: