Gynecologic cancers are of five main types: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvular. Lourdes gynecologists focus on screening for, and identifying and diagnosing, these conditions. They provide surgical interventions and help to continue to manage care for patients undergoing treatment for these conditions.
Gynecologic cancers of different types may have similar symptoms, including abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, as well as pain in the pelvis or abdomen. Pelvic exam, ultrasound or blood tests can sometimes help to rule out these cancers or indicate the need for further testing. As with any cancer, care for gynecologic cancers is most effective if treatment is begun at an early stage. In these cases, most gynecologic cancers have a good cure rate.
|Lourdes gynecologic specialists are vigilant and well versed in detecting cancers of the female reproductive tract and providing state-of-the-science care for them. They serve as an important referral source for gynecologic oncology cases.|
Gynecologic oncologists are physicians who have taken special fellowship training in treating female pelvic cancers both medically and surgically. These specialists at Lourdes are subspecialized surgeons committed to the battle against these cancers:
- cervical cancer. This type of gynecologic cancer requires special watchfulness and prevention and has been successfully combated by widespread screening. It is treatable when caught. >> Learn more about cervical cancer and its care at Lourdes.
- uterine cancer. This most commonly diagnosed gynecologic cancer—most often found in women who are at or past menopause-usually takes the form of a cancer in the endometrium (or lining) of the uterus. Tissues of the uterus can contribute other types of cancers as well. High estrogen exposure due to obesity or estrogen replacement therapy (esp. without progesterone) increase risk of uterine cancer. Because the cancer causes uterine bleeding, it is usually found at an early stage and is thus thought of as the most curable of gynecologic cancers. Diagnosis is usually by biopsy with a simple D&C scrape. Usually most women with uterine cancer require the removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes and the ovaries. Many women may also require lymph node dissection at the time of the hysterectomy. Typically, most women are cured with surgery only, although some patients may require radiation, hormonal treatment or chemotherapy.
- ovarian cancer. This less-common cancer groups tumors that arise from different types of cells in the ovary. Most such cancers come from the epithelial cells (the cells that lie on the surface of the ovaries). Use of estrogen replacement therapy increases risk of this disease, while use of birth controls pills decreases it, as does having had children, breast feeding children or having had a hysterectomy. There is, as yet, no good screening test for ovarian cancer which partly as a result is rarely identified at its early stages. Symptoms include enlarged ovary and fluid build up in the abdomen. But even advanced ovarian cancer is highly treatable, through ovariectomy and and chemotherapy (for which there are new an affective agents). The survival rate with treatment has improved in recent years.
- vaginal cancer. This type of cancer is rare as a primary cancer. Secondary vaginal cancer occurs as the spread of another cancer such as cervical or endometrial cancer.
- vulvular cancer. The vulva is the outer genitalia of the female, consisting of two folds of skin called the labia. Vulvular cancer usually occurs on the inner edges of the labia. HPV vaccine helps to prevent this type of cancer.
Cancer care at Lourdes is specially committed to female reproductive cancers and can deliver the same care as major urban medical centers in the convenience of the community setting—making treatment easier for the patient and her family. Most gynecologic cancers require surgery with removal of some of the reproductive tract or organs, but the course and protocol for intervention is determined in part by how advanced the stage of the cancer is. Surgery sometimes involves hysterectomy.
Robotic surgery can serve an important role in treatment for these cancers, improving precision and decreasing invasiveness of operations targeting these cancers. Lourdes specialists seek to conduct such surgery as conservatively as safely possible, preserving the woman’s anatomy to the extent possible. The gynecologic specialists work with Lourdes medical oncologists and radiation oncologists to manage overall care of the patient.
|Clinical TrialsPatients treated for gynecologic cancers at Lourdes have the opportunity to enroll in clinical trials of new therapies and treatments. Lourdes gynecologists and cancer-care specialists are actively involved in such trials with sponsoring companies, clinical research organizations and national cooperative research groups.|