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Surgery

Gynecologic Oncology

The information on this page was reviewed and approved by
Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on September 21, 2021.

Gynecologic oncology refers to a branch of cancer care focused on cancers of the female reproductive system. The Gynecologic Oncology Program at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) diagnoses and treats cancers of the cervix, ovaries, uterus, vagina and vulva. Members of the multidisciplinary gynecologic oncology team at CTCA® understand the complexities of reproductive cancer. They are trained to diagnose and treat patients with traditional techniques such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery. Members of the gynecology oncology team also recommend supportive therapies designed to help cancer patients manage emotional, physical and sexual side effects of reproductive cancers.

What is gynecologic oncology?

Gynecologic oncology involves the diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the female reproductive system. The Gynecologic Oncology Program at CTCA provides innovative treatments for women with gynecologic cancers, including:

Experienced care team

If you have been diagnosed with gynecologic cancer, it’s important to have a gynecologic oncologist as part of your cancer team. Our gynecologic oncologists have expertise in treating gynecologic malignancies using sophisticated technology designed to help to spare healthy tissue and nearby lymph nodes.

They work closely with the oncologists and other members of your care team to tailor treatments to your specific needs, reduce side effects and address concerns such as fertility or sexual function issues.

Individualized treatment for gynecologic cancer

Before you begin treatment, our gynecologic oncologists and pathologists work together to perform a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, which may include a pelvic examination, ultrasound, lab and/or imaging tests, to determine the exact type and stage of the cancer. We perform staging surgery and cytoreductive (debulking) surgery to find and remove tumors that have spread in the pelvic and abdominal areas.

Since gynecologic cancers are complex, treatment often involves multiple modalities, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. We understand every woman is different, so your treatment plan will include procedures and therapies tailored to your unique needs and treatment goals.

For example, for patients with cancer that has spread through the abdomen, our gynecologic oncologists may perform a procedure called intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy, which delivers chemotherapy directly into the abdominal cavity. We may also recommend minimally invasive alternatives to complex surgery, such as laparoscopic and robotic surgeries.

Our radiation oncologists may also recommend different types of radiation therapy, such as intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), which delivers concentrated radiation therapy to a tumor bed during surgery. For some patients with inoperable or surgically complex tumors, radiation therapy options like CyberKnife® may be a more appropriate option.

Once a diagnosis is determined, our gynecologic oncologists discuss their findings with the patient, outlining available treatment options and developing a plan individualized for the patient’s needs. Our gynecologic oncologists also may inform patients of fertility-sparing options, if they express a desire to have children in the future

Fertility-sparing options

If you want to have children, it's important to know that certain gynecologic cancer treatments may interfere with your fertility and prevent or complicate pregnancy. We’ll address your questions and concerns so you can decide what works for you. If you decide you want to preserve your fertility, we'll discuss with you a variety of fertility-sparing health care options as early in the treatment process as possible.

Managing side effects

Patients are educated on common reproductive cancer and treatment-related side effects, which can take a toll on their sense of self as well as their physical, emotional and sexual health. As part of our whole-person model of care, the gynecologic oncologists at CTCA help patients connect with supportive care clinicians in the behavioral health, nutritional support and other integrative care departments to help manage these challenges.