Gynecologic cancer is an exceptionally personal journey. You may face physical and emotional challenges through diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. A multidisciplinary team offering advanced treatments can guide and support you as you learn about your options.
Reproductive Cancer Types
Gynecologic cancer occurs when cells grow out of control in one of the female reproductive organs:
- Cervical cancer affects the cervix (passageway at the bottom of the uterus).
- Endometrial cancer occurs in the endometrium (lining of the uterus).
- Ovarian cancer develops in one or both ovaries (where eggs form).
- Uterine cancer affects the uterus (womb).
- Vaginal and vulvar cancer affect the outer female genitals.
Diagnosing Gynecologic Cancer
Early and accurate diagnosis is essential to successfully treating gynecologic cancer. We may recommend one or more of the following tests:
- Biopsy: We take a small sample of suspicious tissue and examine it under a microscope. Our in-house pathologists can determine whether the cells are abnormal.
- Blood tests: A blood test can detect substances circulating in your system that indicate cancer.
- Colposcopy: With a magnifier called a colposcope, we take a close look at your cervix, vagina and vulva for signs of disease.
- Imaging tests: We use advanced imaging tests to take pictures of your reproductive organs and identify or locate a tumor. We have every type of medical imaging available on site, including ultrasound, MRI, CT scan and positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
- Pap smear: During a pelvic exam, we use a small brush to gently remove cells from your cervix. Then we check the cells under a microscope for cancerous or precancerous changes.
- Pelvic endoscopy: Using a tool called an endoscope, we can examine your pelvic organs. We use a thin tube equipped with a light and camera to see your reproductive organs.
- Transvaginal ultrasound: Ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of internal structures. We insert a wand-like instrument to examine your vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and bladder.
Gynecologic Cancer Treatment
Once we have your test results, we explain the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is. We recommend the interventions that are most likely to be effective. And we take time to answer all your questions so you can make an informed choice.
Treatment decisions for gynecologic cancer are very personal. We listen to you and your priorities, supporting you as you decide how to move forward.
Your treatment plan might include:
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves circulating drugs through your bloodstream to destroy cancer cells.
- Hormone therapy: Some gynecologic cancers use hormones to grow. Hormone therapy can slow or stop the process.
- Immunotherapy: These innovative treatment options use your immune system to launch an attack against cancer cells. We offer chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, an advanced type of immunotherapy available only at select cancer centers.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is a common treatment for gynecologic cancer. Beams of carefully directed radiation can shrink a tumor before surgery or destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery.
- Surgery: Our surgeons can remove cancerous tissue or affected organs. We aim to use minimally invasive surgery whenever possible, entering through your cervix rather than creating large abdominal incisions. Smaller incisions lower surgical risks and speed up your recovery. Minimally invasive options include vaginal approaches, laparoscopic techniques and robotic-assisted surgery.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is an effective treatment approach that attacks certain characteristics in cancerous cells. It helps destroy cancer cells or slow their growth.
Supportive Care and Survivorship
Memorial’s supportive care team is here for you as you recover and beyond.
You may choose to meet with our fertility experts to discuss options for having children. Our genetic counselors can determine whether you have a genetic form of cancer and assess your relatives’ risk of developing the disease.
Toward the end of treatment, we provide a personalized survivorship care plan. The plan outlines the follow-up tests you need to make sure you catch cancer as early as possible if it comes back. It also lists the potential long-term treatment effects, as well as recommendations for optimal wellness.
Gynecologic Cancer Care: Why Choose Memorial Cancer Institute?
When you come to Memorial for gynecologic cancer care, you’ll find:
- A team approach to cancer care: You receive care from an entire team of experts, including gynecologic oncologists, oncology nurses, pathologists, radiation oncologists and pain management experts. All your specialists discuss your case before, during and after treatment to ensure you receive comprehensive, effective care. Meet our team.
- Care for the whole person: Gynecologic cancer is a very personal journey, and you need support throughout diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. At Memorial, you have access to a variety of support staff. Your team may include integrative medicine specialists, psychologists, genetic counselors and fertility experts.
- Trusted experts: Our gynecologic oncologists and surgeons are board-certified and fellowship-trained to diagnose and treat diseases in the female reproductive system. They have extensive knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating cancer in this complex anatomy.
- Diagnostic technology: Gynecologic cancer can be difficult to detect, identify and quantify. We have advanced tools on site to accurately diagnose the specific type of disease and determine how advanced it is.
- Clinical research: We conduct clinical trials to improve the diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic cancer. This means our patients have access to advanced treatment options not available everywhere.
- Recognized excellence: Memorial Cancer Institute is a Florida Cancer Center of Excellence. We are also an oncology medical home, as designated by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. These recognitions demonstrate our commitment to excellent patient care.