Gynecologic Cancer Care

Gynecologic cancers are cancers that start in the tissues of women’s reproductive organs:

  • The uterus, which is the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows. Uterine cancer starts in the lining of the uterus. Uterine cancer is also called endometrial cancer.
  • The cervix, which is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. The cervix leads from the uterus to the vagina.
  • The vagina, also called the birth canal, which leads from the cervix to the outside of the body.
  • The vulva, a term that includes all the tissues just inside and outside of the vagina.
  • The ovaries, which are attached to the uterus. The ovaries produce eggs and hormones.

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Treatment for gynecologic cancers depends upon the type of cancer you have and many other factors. Treatment may include surgery, radiation, anti-cancer medications (chemotherapy), hormone therapy or a combination of therapies.

Among the tools Sacred Heart’s cancer team uses to treat gynecological cancers are:

  • Experienced surgeons. Sacred Heart has the only board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons who specialize in treating gynecologic cancer between Portland and San Francisco, drawing patients from throughout Oregon and northern California.
  • Da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery. This minimally invasive surgical system can be used in the treatment of several gynecologic cancers. Patients have less pain, a quicker recovery and faster return to normal activities than with traditional surgery.
  • High dose rate (HDR) seed implants. In this outpatient procedure, tiny radioactive “seeds” are temporarily placed inside or alongside the tumor. This delivers a high dose of radiation with very little effect on nearby organs.
  • Smart Operating Rooms.  Smart ORs are surgical suites equipped with advanced technology that helps surgeons do their best work, including minimally invasive surgery.
  • The latest chemotherapy medications.
  • Breakthrough treatments available only through clinical trials.

Treatment Locations

Most or all of the care you will need to diagnose and treat gynecologic cancers is available on the RiverBend medical campus from Sacred Heart and its partners in cancer care.

  • Surgery and certain inpatient and outpatient treatments are provided at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are provided to outpatients at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, which has offices at RiverBend and on Country Club Road in Eugene. Chemotherapy is also available in the Regional Infusion Center at Sacred Heart, University District.
  • Imaging (radiology) is provided to outpatients at Oregon Imaging Centers, which has offices on the RiverBend campus and throughout Eugene and Springfield.

Deborah Dotters, MD and Audrey Garrett, MD discuss how robotically-assisted surgery has advanced their capabilities as gynecologic oncologists.