Skip navigation links

Oct. 31, 2023

Ask the expert: Understanding gynecologic cancer

Jayson Field, is the director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology within the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and provides care as a gynecologic oncologist at MSU Health Care. He discusses the different types of gynecologic cancers and how to get screened.

Why should somebody get screened for gynecologic cancer?

Women should see their gynecologist or primary care provider annually to be screened for gynecologic cancers. About 94,000 women are diagnosed with gynecologic cancers each year according to the Center for Disease Control.

What is gynecologic cancer?

Gynecologic cancers are cancers of the Women’s reproductive tract including the uterus, ovary, cervix, vulva and vagina. 

Jayson Field wearing a Spartan fleece over a shirt and tie. He is smiling with grey hair and black-framed glasses

What are the most common types of gynecologic cancer?

The most common type of gynecologic cancer is endometrial cancer. Endometrial cancer is the fourth leading cancer in the United States and kills about 12,000 women per year. Diagnoses and mortality rate of this cancer is increasing due to increasing rates of obesity. 

What are some risk factors?

Risk factors for gynecologic cancers include obesity, increasing age, family history, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking tobacco and lack of screening or vaccination for cervical cancer.

Can anything be done to prevent gynecologic cancer?

Yes, you can do a lot to prevent gynecologic cancers. The best thing you can do is get screened on an annual basis. You should also stay up to date on your HPV vaccinations which decreases your risk of cervical cancer. Other things you can do include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking tobacco and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption.

How does someone get screened for gynecologic cancer?

There are different ways to screen for gynecologic cancers. Pelvic exams, with Pap and HPV tests, screen for cervical cancer and should be done during your annual wellness exam. Pelvic exams screen for gynecologic cancers and should be done yearly. Endometrial biopsies are done to diagnose endometrial cancer and should be considered if you are at risk for endometrial cancer, usually when women experience postmenopausal bleeding, which is abnormal.

How many gynecologic oncologists are there in the Greater Lansing area?

I am one of three gynecologic oncologists in the Greater Lansing area. I treat patients at the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Greater Lansing.

Anything else we should know?

It is important to recognize the signs of gynecologic cancers. They include abnormal or postmenopausal bleeding, bleeding after intercourse, abdominal or pelvic pain, change in appetite or weight, and abdominal distention. If you exhibit any of these symptoms and they are worsening and occurring daily for 3 weeks, please see your gynecologist or primary care provider for a pelvic and possibly a rectal exam. Once the exam has taken place, a pelvic ultrasound may follow with the possibility of other laboratory tests.

This story also ran on the MSU Health Care website.

Media Contacts


more content from this collection

MSU and Greater Lansing: Making an impact in the capital region