Our specialists understands the fear and uncertainty a diagnosis of cancer can bring. Our specialized team includes nurse practitioners/physician assistants who are licensed independent providers that will work with your gynecologic oncologist to provide care and help coordinate your cancer treatment. Our team also includes nurse navigators, chemotherapy coordinators and social workers who will provide supportive care and patient education. Our multidisciplinary team is here to help you throughout this difficult time.
What is gynecologic cancer?
Gynecologic cancers affect a woman’s reproductive organs, including cervix, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina and vulva. The American Cancer Society estimates each year, approximately 106,000 women are diagnosed with a cancer of the reproductive organ including,ovarian cancer, uterine cancer,cervical cancer and vulvar cancer.
What is a gynecologic oncologist?
A gynecologic oncologist is a physician first trained in obstetrics and gynecology who has an additional three to four years of training in gynecologic cancers including advanced surgery techniques and chemotherapy administration. These gynecologic oncology specialists use these skills to treat cancers of the female reproductive system.
What We Treat
Who is at risk for gynecologic cancer?The following are risk factors for different kinds of gynecologic cancers. Each cancer has its own general risk factors, and may affect women in various ways. Every woman is different, so talk to your doctor or gynecology oncology specialist about any questions or concerns you may have.
Risk factors include:
- Post menopausal (over age 50)
- Endometrial hyperplasia – a condition where the cells of the endometrium are abnormal
- Cervical dysplasia – a condition where the cervical cells are abnormal
- High blood sugar
- Other cancers (colon, rectal, breast)
- Early age of first menstruation
- Women who have never been pregnant
- Hormone-related issues
- Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
Gynecology Oncology is a discipline that focuses on the treatment of cancers of a gynecologic nature. To learn more about gynecology and oncology topics, including types of cancer, their treatments, and more, please review the resources available here.
What gynecology oncology services are provided at our Oncology Clinic?
- Access to the latest techniques in the management of gynecologic cancers including the newest drug treatments and access to clinical trials through our membership in NRG Oncology, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.
- Minimally invasive surgery (including robotic-assisted laparoscopy and single port laparoscopy) used in the management of some early gynecologic cancers, including lymph node dissections and other staging procedures.
- A gynecologic chemotherapy unit with private infusion rooms is located within the department for patient convenience and is staffed by specially trained oncology nurses with chemotherapy certification.
- The Radiation Therapy Center provides the latest, most sophisticated radiation therapy techniques for treatment of gynecologic cancers including custom brachytherapy, interstitial radiation, external beam radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), and intra-operative radiation therapy (IORT).
- Ultrasound with color flow Doppler imaging for identifying blood flow changes associated with early ovarian cancer.
- Colposcopy which is an office procedure where a specialized microscope (called a colposcope) is used to examine the cervix, vagina or vulva for pre-cancerous cells.
- The Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP), which is an office procedure to safely and comfortably remove pre-cancerous cells from the cervix without having to undergo a procedure in an operating room under anesthesia.
Cervical Cancer Screening
Thanks to recent advances in understanding the cause of cervical cancer, screening for this disease has now become more accurate and therefore more preventable. Cervical cancer is caused by the presence and persistence of the human papilloma virus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted disease. The combined use of HPV testing and the traditional pap test, especially in women over the age of 30 is now the new standard. Additionally, the availability of the HPV vaccine will likely reduce the number of cervical cancer cases in the future.
- Overview: Cervical Cancer , HPV, HPV Vaccine, Cervical Dysplasia
- Prevention: Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines
- Diagnosis: When a Pap Test is Abnormal
- Treatment: LEEP
Ovarian cancer is a malignant tumor (abnormal growth of tissue) that develops in a woman's ovaries. (Ovaries are the reproductive organs that hold a woman's eggs.) Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer death in women. Overall, it makes up about 3% of all cancers in women. Older women are at higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. The greatest number of cases occur in women who are over 60 years of age. When it is found in its earliest stages, ovarian cancer can be cured 90-95% of the time. Unfortunately, early ovarian cancer is hard to detect, and there are no good screening tools. Many cases of ovarian cancer are found after the cancer has spread to other organs. In these cases, the cancer is much more difficult to treat and cure.
Care & Treatment
- Three kinds of standard treatment are used: Surgery Chemotherapy Targeted therapy New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials. Radiation therapy Immunotherapy Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.
- Patients can enter clinical trials before, during, or after starting their cancer treatment.
- Follow-up tests may be needed.
Cells in the body normally divide (reproduce) only when new cells are needed. Sometimes, cells in a part of the body grow and divide out of control, which creates a mass of tissue called a tumor. If the cells that are growing out of control are normal cells, the tumor is called benign (not cancerous). If, however, the cells that are growing out of control are abnormal and don't function like the body's normal cells, the tumor is called malignant (cancerous). Cancers are named after the part of the body from which they originate. Breast cancer originates in the breast tissue. Like other cancers, breast cancer can invade and grow into the tissue surrounding the breast. It can also travel to other parts of the body and form new tumors, a process called metastasis.
Uterine cancer is a general term that is used to describe a cancer of the uterus (or womb). A uterine cancer that develops in the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) is called an endometrial cancer. A uterine cancer that develops in the myometrium (muscle wall of the uterus) is called a uterine sarcoma. Uterine sarcomas are very rare.
Vaginal cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects women. The vagina is a tube-like organ that connects the cervix (the lower part of the uterus) to the vulva (the outside female genitals). The vagina is lined by a layer of flat cells called squamous cells. This layer of cells is also called epithelium because it is formed by epithelial cells. At birth, a baby passes through the vagina as he or she is born, so the vagina is sometimes also known as the birth canal.