If you have been diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer, a cancer of the reproductive tract, MedStar Health specialists are here to guide you, each step of the way, through your diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
A gynecologic oncologist specialized in both women's conditions and cancer. Studies have shown that the best results occur when a patient is treated by a gynecologic oncologist. At MedStar Health hospitals, gynecologic oncologists, assisted by specially trained nurses and support staff, manage and treat women's reproductive cancer. It is important to see an experienced gynecologic oncologist for proper diagnosis. The more accurate the diagnosis is, the more tailored and precise your treatment plan can be.
Gynecologic Oncology Tumor Board
MedStar Health's team approach to caring for women with gynecologic cancers is exemplified by our weekly treatment planning conferences. These meetings allow representatives from gynecologic oncology, radiation oncology, pathology, research and nursing to review new cases and optimize the treatment plan for each patient. Palliative care specialists are available to lessen pain, provide emotional support, and offer relaxation/pain-fighting techniques throughout the course of cancer care.
The gynecologic oncology services provided by MedStar Health include:
- Precancerous conditions: We provide care for patients with premalignant or cancerous conditions of the cervix, vagina and vulva.
- Evaluation of abnormalities: Sometimes, during a routine gynecologic exam, your doctor finds an abnormality. We work quickly and carefully to diagnose the problem and create an appropriate treatment plan, including complex pelvic surgery and outpatient chemotherapy.
- Cancer care: We provide the full spectrum of care for patients with cancer of the ovary, uterus, cervix, vagina, and vulva, as well as for patients with molar pregnancies/choriocarcinoma.
- Dysplasia: Our physicians have expertise in performing colposcopy treatment of dysplasia of the cervix, vagina, and vulva.
Symptoms of gynecologic cancer can resemble symptoms of other, less serious conditions. It is important to see a gynecologist with expertise in this area so you can be properly diagnosed and treated.
If you experience any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, call your doctor:
- Unusual bleeding, including bleeding between periods, abnormally heavy periods or bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Pelvic pain, persistent pain below your naval (not menstrual cramps)
- Bowel or urine irregularities, including constipation, diarrhea, nausea, excessive gas or burning when you urinate
- Abdominal swelling
- Lumps or sores on your vagina or vulva
- Lower back pain, a less common symptom that may appear in women with ovarian or uterine cancer
While diagnoses differ depending on the cancer, here is a general guideline for the diagnosis phase:
- Exam: Your doctor asks you about your medical history and performs a thorough physical examination.
- Pap smear: Your doctor performs a pelvic exam and Pap smear. It is important to have regular Pap smears in order to detect precancerous conditions, which can be more easily treated if they are caught earlier.
- Imaging scans: A computed tomography scan (CT), magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) and X-ray can help the doctor locate the abnormality.
- Dilation and curettage (D&C): Your doctor dilates your cervix and scrapes the uterine walls to obtain a sample of tissue.
- Biopsy: Your doctor removes a piece of the suspicious mass and sends it to a pathology lab for a definitive diagnosis.
Studies show gynecologic cancer patients have the best outcomes when a gynecologic oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating gynecologic cancers treats them. Your health care team at MedStar Health will be made up of doctors from many different specialties—gynecologic oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, oncology nurses, and other support staff—but don't let the size of your team overwhelm you. All our team members collaborate frequently and are on the same page regarding your care.
Treatments for women with gynecologic cancers include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or targeted therapies or biologics. Our physicians use all the treatment tools available and carefully match patients to the appropriate treatment for them.
While grouped under one heading, there are five distinct types of gynecologic cancers, each with its own risk factors and symptoms.
Read more about the specific gynecologic cancers we treat: