Reproductive cancers start in the organs related to reproduction (sex). These organs are in the pelvis. The pelvis is the area in the lower belly between the hip bones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, provide more information on the causes, treatment, and prevention of reproductive cancers. For information on differences in cancer measures between groups of people and contributing factors, see NCI's page on Cancer Disparities.
Female Reproductive Cancers
There are several reproductive cancers that occur in women. The most common ones are:
- Cervical cancer – cancer of the cervix, the lower end of the uterus that extends to the vagina
- Ovarian cancer – cancer in the ovaries, the two organs that make female hormones and produce a woman’s eggs
- Uterine cancer – cancer in the uterus (womb), the organ where the baby grows when a woman is pregnant
- Vaginal cancer – cancer of the vagina, the hollow channel that leads from the uterus and cervix to the outside of the body
- Vulvar cancer – cancer of the vulva, the area around the opening of the vagina
- Breast cancer – sometimes considered a reproductive cancer, breast cancer is in the tissues of the breast
Male Reproductive Cancers
There are a few different types of reproductive cancers that occur in men. The most common ones are:
- Testicular cancer – begins in the testes, the two egg-shaped glands that make sperm in the scrotum (ball sac) near the base of the penis
- Penile cancer – begins in the penis, part of the external genitals
- Prostate cancer – begins in the prostate, a gland inside the pelvis (the area in the lower belly between the hip bones) that surrounds the urethra (the tube that empties the bladder)
HPV Vaccine and Cancer Prevention
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. There are many different types of HPV, some that are low-risk and others that are high-risk. Having high-risk strains of HPV can increase a person’s risk of certain reproductive cancers, namely cervical, vaginal and vulvar, and penile cancer.
HPV vaccines are safe and effective. They can protect males and females against diseases and health problems caused by HPV, including genital warts and some cancers.