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This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by

Ruchi Garg, MD, CTCA National Program Director for Gynecologic Oncology.

This page was updated on May 9, 2022.

What is a gynecologic oncologist?

A gynecologic oncologist is a fellowship-trained doctor who treats cancers of the female reproductive system, including cancers of the cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, vagina and vulva.

What training does a gynecologic oncologist receive?

Gynecologic oncologists complete a four-year obstetrics-and-gynecology residency program after medical school before then moving on to a three- or four-year fellowship in gynecologic oncology.

During their training, gynecologic oncologists learn surgical techniques, the proper administration of chemotherapy, the biology and pathology of gynecological cancers, and other treatments for gynecologic cancers.

They use their training, which includes continuing medical education on new and emerging trends and treatments, to manage all or most of their patients’ treatment, including diagnosing and staging the disease and performing surgery to remove the cancer.

Reasons to see a gynecologic oncologist

Your OB/GYN or primary care doctor may refer you to a gynecologic oncologist for further testing and, if necessary, cancer treatment if they believe you need specialized care.

Some reasons you may receive or ask for a referral include:

  • Abnormal growth on vulva or vagina
  • Abnormal Pap smear
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • A lump you can see and feel that may be painful
  • A sore in the vaginal area that doesn’t heal
  • Pain in the pelvic region
  • Persistent changes in the bowel or bladder
  • Persistent or abnormal pelvic pain

“Ever since I needed to decide which field of medicine to practice, I’ve wanted to be a gynecologic oncologist. Being able to take care of women’s health from prevention and diagnosis through surgery, medical treatment and recovery is immensely satisfying.”

Gynecologic oncologists: A rarity in the United States

An estimated 1,500 gynecologic oncologists are practicing in the United States today—far fewer than needed to treat the approximately 100,000 women diagnosed with gynecologic cancers each year. Most of these specialists practice in urban areas. In fact, fewer than 13 percent of gynecologic oncologists practice in rural areas, and 37 percent of U.S. counties with the highest rates of gynecologic cancer don’t have a practicing gynecologic oncologist.

Yet research suggests that women with gynecologic cancers who are treated by a gynecologic oncologist have better outcomes and chances for survival than those who are not.

Gynecologic oncology treatment

Because gynecologic cancers are complex, treatment often involves multiple approaches, including surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy—all areas gynecologic oncologists have expertise in managing. At CTCA, gynecologic oncologists use, when applicable, state-of-the-art robotic and minimally invasive surgical technology to locate and remove tumors that have spread in the pelvic and abdominal regions. They also use minimally invasive technology to remove sentinel lymph nodes when necessary to prevent and/or reduce surgical complications.

Gynecologic oncologists are also trained in using genetic and genomic testing to help identify personalized treatment options and measure cancer risks for patients, and they can perform fertility-sparing surgeries and fertility-preserving options when possible.

Learn more about how we treat gynecologic cancers

Meet our gynecologic oncologists

Your CTCA gynecologic oncology team

In addition to gynecologic oncologists, your care team may include:

You may also work with other oncology-trained providers, such as nurses and nurse practitioners.

The CTCA Gynecologic Cancer Centers

At CTCA, cancers of the female reproductive system are such an important focus that each of our hospitals has a Gynecologic Cancer Center, where multidisciplinary teams of gynecologic cancer experts develop a comprehensive treatment personalized to the patient’s individual needs and goals. This patient-centered approach is driven by our Mother Standard® of care model, which means we treat all our patients with the compassion, dignity and respect they deserve—just as we’d want our own loved ones to be treated.

For patients who qualify, we offer carefully selected clinical trials. Your care team will discuss with you whether you’re a candidate for any of our ongoing clinical trials and, if so, help you enroll.

Learn more about the CTCA clinical trials program and which trials are available

If you’re interested in learning more about gynecologic cancer treatment at CTCA, or if you want a second opinion about your diagnosis and treatment plan, call us or chat online with a member of our team.

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