Questions About Gynecologic Cancer?
We’re here to help. Contact our Nurse Navigator, Betsy Rice, MSN, RN,CBCN, at 203-276-CARE. Press 5.
While many gynecologic oncologists often concentrate on treating the cancer, our focus is on you as a whole person. We aim to help you through the many physical and emotional changes that a gynecologic cancer diagnosis may bring to relationships, sexuality, and menopause, while also addressing the needs of partners and families.
What is gynecologic cancer?
- Cervical Cancer: Cancer that begins in the lower part of the uterus, or in the cells that line the cervix. The best cervical cancer treatment often starts with prevention in the form of regular pap smears and the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine that protects against certain strains of the virus. For early or advanced stages of cervical cancer, treatments vary but can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy or a combination.
- Uterine or Endometrial Cancer: Cancer that develops in the inner lining of the uterus, or endometrium. Uterine cancer treatment or endometrial cancer treatment can include but is not limited to surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or radiation therapy.
- Fallopian Tube Cancer: Also known as tubular cancer, a cancer that develops in the fallopian tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus. Depending on the size, location and stage of the fallopian tumor, treatment for fallopian tube cancer oftentimes includes a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.
- Ovarian Cancer: Cancer that begins in the ovaries, the female reproductive glands that produce eggs for reproduction. For ovarian cancer treatment, your oncologist may recommend a combination of therapies with surgery.
- Vaginal Cancer: Cancer that starts in the vagina. Though there are many types, the most common type of vaginal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. Vaginal cancer treatment can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery either alone or in combination.
- Vulvar Cancer: Although very rate, vulvar cancer is mostly diagnosed in older women. Vulvar cancer treatments your oncologist may recommend include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery or topical therapy.
What makes our division of gynecologic oncology unique?
- The most comprehensive Gynecologic Oncology program in Lower Fairfield County, including access to clinical trials at the Yale Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Columbia University’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.
- We take the time to truly get to know you, address your questions and concerns, and to coordinate specialty care services.
- A multidisciplinary team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, geneticists, and other specialists who collaborate to develop strategies to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
- Stamford Hospital is one of a few hospitals in Connecticut that has a dedicated Gynecologic Oncology Tumor Board in which your entire care team meets to discuss your case to determine the best course of care.
What radiation therapy is used for gynecologic cancer?
Our radiation oncologists use a wide variety of radiation delivery systems for gynecologic cancer treatment, including:
- 3D conformal radiation
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy. Brachytherapy involves the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans for placing radioactive seeds either into the cavity (intravacitary brachytherapy) or onto the tumor itself (interstitial brachytherapy). Radiation may be used alone or with other treatments to effectively treat gynecologic cancers.
When do you need gynecologic surgery for cancer?
Gynecologic cancers are often complex, so treatment options may include chemotherapy, intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy (for cancer that has spread throughout the abdomen), radiation therapy, immunotherapy (treatment with antibodies that target cancer cells), surgery, minimally invasive surgery including the da Vinci® Surgical System, or a combination of some or all of these options. Your specific treatment plan will be based on your unique needs and treatment goals. We offer the following gynecologic surgeries for:
- Untreated gynecologic cancers
- Complications and recurrences of gynecologic cancers (i.e., repair of pelvic support)
Benign gynecologic diseases such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, recurrent ovarian cysts, pelvic pain, or pelvic organ prolapse.
In some cases, chemotherapy and radiation can be used to shrink a tumor before surgery. They can also be used after surgery to help prevent a gynecologic cancer recurrence.
What support services are offered for those with gynecologic cancer?
Gynecologic Oncology Survivorship Program
You may feel embarrassed or reluctant to discuss how the cancer or its treatment has impacted your life. Survivorship services, coordinated with the Bennett Cancer Center enhance the physical and emotional lives of cancer survivors and their partners by fostering a safe place for you to share your thoughts and feelings. This program enables our team to work with you to develop an individualized care plan .
Sexuality and Cancer Consultation
We understand the impact that gynecologic cancer and its treatment can have on your life - including intimacy and sexuality. Our physicians are experts in women’s cancers, cancer survivorship, and sexual health. They provide patient consultations that address intimacy and sexuality concerns that may arise during or after cancer treatment. During the consultation you will be asked about your sexual function and any pain or discomfort that you may be feeling, as well as its impact on your quality of life. When appropriate, other specialists such as, psychologists, physiatrists or physical therapists may be consulted to help formulate a treatment plan that combines therapeutic modalities in order to find the best approach to address your needs.