Gynecological cancers include cancers of the cervix, uterus, ovaries, vagina, vulva and fallopian tubes. Over 80,000 women in the US are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer (gynecologics cancer) each year. More than half of these are uterine cancers.
Patients with gynecologic cancer are treated by a team of physicians that may include the following:
- A gynecologic oncologist is a gynecologist who specializes in surgery for gynecologic cancers. He or she may also administer chemotherapy for gynecologic cancer.
- A radiation oncologist is a physician who is trained to use radiation therapy to treat cancer.
- A medical oncologist is a physician trained to use chemotherapy to treat cancer.
The treatment of gynecologic cancer varies depending on the site, the extent (or stage) and the patient’s overall health.
Uterine (or endometrial) cancer is usually treated with surgery to remove the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. This surgery is called a hysterectomy. Depending on the findings, radiation therapy and /or chemotherapy may be added after surgery.
Ovarian cancer is usually treated with surgery to remove the ovaries, uterus and other structures in the abdomen and pelvis. Chemotherapy is often recommended after surgery. Fallopian tube cancers are rare and are treated similarly to ovarian cancers.
Cervical cancer can be treated with either a hysterectomy, or radiation therapy. If the cervical cancer is small, surgery is usually done. However, with larger tumors, radiation therapy, often given along with low-dose chemotherapy, is preferred.
Vulvar cancer is treated with surgery; radiation therapy may need to be added after surgery in certain situations. If the vulvar cancer is large, radiation therapy may be used without surgery.
Vaginal cancers are treated with radiation therapy.