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Understanding Your Diagnosis

What is cancer?

Webster’s dictionary defines cancer as “a serious disease caused by cells that are not normal and that can spread to one or many parts of the body”. There are many different types of cancer (over 100 are known). There is a misconception that all cancers are treated the same and therefore should be cured in the same way. Another misconception is that cancer is something that is foreign to the body it invades and grows in, but actually it is your own cells that undergo a change or mutation that causes them to act differently than normal cells. Each cell in our body is programmed for a life cycle of growth, death and replacement.

Each cell holds the information that tells it how quickly to divide and grow. When everything is working normally, the balance between new and old cells is equal. Cancer itself takes a long time to develop, as there are several steps or mutations to a cell that need to happen before it becomes permanently changed. This process may take many years before it is recognized and diagnosed as a cancer.

There are two different types of tumours, benign and malignant.

A benign tumour is a group of cells that are not cancer but have an abnormal growth pattern often forming a mass or tumour that does not spread.

A malignant tumour tends to grow quickly on or into surrounding tissues and can spread to distant areas of the body far from the original area of growth. Cancers are usually named after the area or organ in which it first started. If you have been diagnosed with a gynecological cancer, then the abnormal growth would have started somewhere in the female reproductive system.

These cancers include:

Uterine / Endometrial cancer
Ovarian / Fallopian tube cancer
Cervical cancer
Vulvar cancer
Vaginal cancer

Canadian resources with information to help you learn more about your diagnosis:

Canadian Cancer Society

Your cancer treatment team will assist you in accessing information during different aspects of your cancer journey. They also can connect you with local resources within your community.

Ovarian Cancer Canada

This organization offers information, education and support including “By Your Side”, a guide for women living with ovarian cancer.

Fertile Future

This is a Canadian network dedicated to providing information, education and financial assistance for those cancer patients who wish to look into options for preserving fertility.

Our Partners

The Society of Gynecologic Oncology of Canada welcomes and values industry partnerships.

GOC acknowledges the ongoing support of these dedicated partners for their commitment to gynecologic oncology in Canada. Thank you.

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