PANCE Blueprint Reproductive System (7%)

Neoplasms of the breast and reproductive tract (PEARLS)

Breast Cancer Most common malignancy in women

  • Risk factors (increased exposure to estrogen):
    • Menarche before age 12
    • Old age of first full-term pregnancy, no pregnancies
    • Menopause after age 52
  • Breast mass- immobile, irregular
  • Nipple retraction, bloody nipple discharge

Most common type - Infiltrating Intraductal Carcinoma (IIC) 80%

  • Infiltrating lobular (10%) frequently bilateral
  • Paget's disease of the nipple (1%) chronic eczematous itchy, scaling rash on the nipples and areola
  • Inflammatory breast cancer (2%) red swollen, warm and itchy breast often with nipple retraction and peau d'orange (NO LUMP)

Tumors may be Estrogen receptor (ER) positive 75%, Progesterone receptor (PR) positive 65% as well as HER2 positive 25%

USPSTF guidelines for breast cancer screening: 

Baseline mammogram every 2 years from age 50-74

Every 2 years beginning at age 40 if increased risk factors – 10 years prior to the age the 1’st degree relative was diagnosed. 

  • Clinical breast exam every 3 years in women age 20-39 years then annually after age 40
  • Breast self-exam monthly beginning at age 20 – immediately after menstruation on days 5-7 of the menstrual cycle


  • Segmental mastectomy (lumpectomy) followed by breast irradiation in all patients and adjunctive chemotherapy in women with positive nodes stage I and stage II with tumors less than 4 cm in diameter
  • Anti-estrogen Tamoxifen is useful in tumors that are ER-positive – binds and blocks the estrogen receptor in the breast tissue
  • Aromatase inhibitors are useful in postmenopausal ER-positive patients with breast cancer – reduces the production of estrogen
  • Monoclonal AB treatment is useful in patients with HER2 positivity (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor)
Cervical cancer
What clinical triad is strongly indicative of cervical cancer extension to the pelvic wall?
Unilateral leg edema, sciatic pain, ureteral obstruction

Cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer

  • Up to 80% of patients present with abnormal vaginal bleeding, most commonly postmenopausal
    • Only 10% note postcoital bleeding
    • Less frequent symptoms include vaginal discharge and pain
  • 80% are squamous cells and arise from the squamocolumnar junction of the cervix (transformational zone)
  • Risk factors for carcinoma of the cervix ⇒ Multiple sexual partners, early age at first intercourse, early first pregnancy, and HPV positive
  • HPV is 99% of the reason for cervical cancer, types that cause cancer are 16,18,31 and 33. Especially types 16, 18
  • Associated with cigarette smoking

DX:  Friable, bleeding cervical lesion on exam

  • Biopsy of gross lesions and colposcopically directed biopsies are the definitive means of diagnosis
  • Majority of cases (80%) are invasive squamous cell types usually arising from the ectocervix

TX: Resect and/or chemotherapy and radiation

  • Stage 1: conservative, simple, or radical hysterectomy
  • Stage 2 +: chemo +/– radiation
  • 5-y survival– Stage 1: 85%-90% Stage 2: 65% Stage 3: 29% Stage 4: 21%
Ovarian Cancer Ovarian cancer is the second most type of GYN cancer in women (first is endometrial cancer)

  • Population: 40-60 years of age, ascites, abdominal pain ⇒ 75% diagnosed at an advanced stage
    • If a woman has ascites ovarian cancer is the most likely tumor to be found
  • Protective factors for the risk of ovarian cancer include multiparty, OCP use, and breast-feeding
    • Use of oral contraceptives: 5 years of use decreases risk by 20%; 15 years by 50%
  • Risk factors: nulligravidity (or infertility), early menarche, late menopause, endometriosis
  • 90% are epithelial tumors ⇒ germ cell tumors are more common in patients < 10 years old

DX: Diagnose with transvaginal ultrasound then biopsy

  • Serum tumor marker CA-125 BRCA1 gene is associated with 5% of cases

TX: Stage 1A or 1B—Surgical excision alone (abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy)

  • Other stages—Surgical resection followed by adjuvant chemotherapy or radiation
  • Monitor CA-125 afterward to assess disease progress
Endometrial cancer Endometrial cancer is the most common GYN malignancy and fourth most common malignancy in women in the US

  • The cardinal symptom is postmenopausal vaginal bleeding One-third of women with postmenopausal bleeding have endometrial CA
    • Bleeding in postmenopausal women is CA until proven otherwise
  • Most often adenocarcinoma
  • Risk factors for endometrial cancer: Obesity, nulliparity, early menarche, late menopause, unopposed estrogen stimulation, hypertension, gallbladder disease, DM, prior ovarian, endometrial, or breast cancer
  • 50% of women with endometrial cancer will have an abnormal PAP smear

Diagnosis: Endometrial biopsy is the gold standard definitive diagnostic test

  • Endometrial biopsy is indicated in all postmenopausal women vaginal bleeding

TX: Usually total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, pelvic radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy for stage II or III cancer

Vaginal and Vulvar cancer
What are the known risk factors for vulvar/vaginal carcinoma?
HPV infection, Smoking, Coexisting cervical carcinoma, In utero exposure to DES

Vaginal Cancer

  • Rare: 1% of gynecological malignancies and is usually secondary to other cancer
  • Peak incidence at 60-65 years of age
  • Squamous cell represents 95% caused by HPV
    • Adenocarcinoma caused by DES exposure
  • Most common location of vaginal carcinoma is the upper one-third of the posterior vaginal wall
  • Usually presents as changes in menstrual period and/or abnormal vaginal bleeding

TX: with radiation therapy

Vulvar Cancer

  • Peak incidence is at 50 years old
  • Vaginal pruritus is the most common presentation (70% will present with this symptom)
  • 90% are squamous cell cancers and melanoma. Risks include HPV subtypes 16, 18, and 31 – pruritic black lesions

DX: Application of acetic acid or staining with toluidine blue may help direct optimal biopsy location

TX: Vulvectomy and lymph node dissection

Paget’s – pruritic red lesions

TX: Local resection

Dysfunctional uterine bleeding (Lecture) (Prev Lesson)
(Next Lesson) Breast Cancer (Lecture)
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