Can Women Get Prostate Cancer? Understanding the Skene’s Gland

Women cannot get prostate cancer in the same way men can simply because they don’t have a prostate, which is a vital part of the male reproductive system. However, a woman’s reproductive system does have a similar organ–the Skene glands. The glands are named after Alexander Skene, a Scottish gynecologist who elaborated on the glands in medical literature in the late 19th century.

Commonly referred to as the female prostate, the Skene glands can harbor cancer as well as other conditions, like infection and cysts.

What Are Skene Glands?

Skene glands are two small glands located on the front side of the vagina and around the bottom end of the urethra (a thin tube through which urine is removed from the body).

You may have never heard of Skene glands. This is understandable, as they are one of the more obscure parts of a woman’s urinary system. The glands discharge a fluid that helps to lubricate the urethra. The fluid is similar to the fluid secreted by the male prostate, which has resulted in the coining of the term “female prostate.”

Skene Glands Functions

The Skene glands’ functions are not entirely understood and are still being widely studied. It’s believed the fluid released by skene glands has an antimicrobial effect and shields the bladder and urethra from bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections. It’s also believed skene glands enhance sexual function by helping lubricate the vagina during sexual intercourse.

Can a Woman Get Female Prostate Cancer?

Like in several other organs, cancer can grow and spread in the Skene glands. Luckily, this type of cancer is extremely rare—it accounts for only 0.003 percent of female genital cancers.

Nonetheless, if you’re a woman, you should never ignore certain symptoms, as they may be indicative of serious health problems occurring in your body.

Female Prostate Cancer Symptoms

Due to the rarity of this type of cancer, it’s easy for women to overlook or deem initial symptoms as not serious enough for a medical intervention.

However, if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, you should see a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Blood in urine
  • Bleeding out of your urinary tract
  • Painful urination
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Sudden and unexplainable changes in your menstrual cycle
  • Itching around the urethra
  • Pain in your lower pelvis
  • Pressure on the bladder and a frequent need to urinate
  • Pressure behind the pubic bone

Diagnosis and Treatment of “Female Prostate Cancer”

If your doctor suspects cancer of the Skene glands, they will likely order an imaging test, such as an MRI, to formulate a clear diagnosis. If your cancer is detected early enough, it may be treated with radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is a common cancer treatment that uses intense bundles of radiotherapy to kill or shrink cancer cells.

If the cancer is more advanced and has spread to other organs, such as the bladder or urinary tract, your healthcare provider will likely recommend a surgical procedure to remove all cancerous tumors.

Not all growths on the Skene glands are cancerous. It’s not uncommon for women to develop benign cysts on the Skene glands. While these cysts are generally not harmful to a woman’s overall health, your doctor will likely recommend draining them to prevent any potential problems with your urinary system.

Are You Experiencing Some of the Symptoms Listed Above? Community Cancer Center Can Help

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer, the specialists at Community Cancer Center in Rosenburg can help.

We provide specialized treatment for several types of cancers, including female reproductive system cancers, breast cancer and cervical cancer.

We understand how difficult a cancer diagnosis can be and are fully committed to treating you or your loved one with the care and compassion you need during this difficult time.

To schedule your appointment, call 541-673-2267 (ext. 5100) or send us a message.