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Gynecological Cancer Care

Are you concerned about cancer of the uterus (womb), cervix, vagina or ovaries? These kinds of cancers affect the female reproductive system. They are also known as gynecological cancers. 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a gynecological cancer, you may want to know more about what happens next, and how to get the best care. PeaceHealth is here to help with advanced care for uterine, cervical and ovarian cancers. Our cancer centers are close to home and offer related services to support you and your family. Here’s what you need to know about gynecological cancer care at PeaceHealth.

Caring for you, not just your cancer

PeaceHealth cancer care is fully integrated. This means your gynecological cancer specialists work together. They’re all part of one team devoted to your health and well-being. We see you as a whole person, so your team goes beyond medical care to include people to help with financial concerns, mental health and spiritual care.

Your care team may include:

  • Cancer doctors (oncologists)
  • Gynecologists (female reproductive system doctors)
  • Surgeons (surgical oncologists, general surgeons and reconstructive surgeons)
  • Radiation specialists (radiation oncologists)
  • Nurses who specialize in cancer
  • Cancer social workers
  • Other specialists depending on your needs 

As you move through treatment, your team will communicate regularly with each other, and with you, to plan for the best care possible.

What does my gynecological cancer diagnosis mean? 

If you have a gynecological cancer diagnosis, it means that cancer cells have been found in your uterus, cervix, vagina, vulva or ovaries. 

Gynecological cancer happens when some cells in these reproductive organs grow in a way that isn’t normal and form a tumor. This kind of cancer isn’t common. It affects about 100,000 people a year — far fewer than breast cancer, colon cancer or skin cancer. 

Gynecological cancer can be serious. The good news is that recent scientific advances have made treatment more precise. This can help you heal better and faster.  

After diagnosis, the next step is to learn more about your cancer so we can create a treatment plan that’s right for you. You and your doctor might decide to do more tests, scans or a biopsy (sample) to get more information. These diagnostic tests can help with understanding your cancer type and stage (severity) so we can plan the most effective treatment.

What’s included in a treatment plan for gynecological cancer? 

Once we know more about your cancer, we can work together to plan gynecological cancer care that will work best for you. There are many different treatments available, so picking the right ones for your situation is very important.

Your plan will outline treatment choices and a recommended timeline. To create your plan, you and your PeaceHealth care team will consider:

  • Cancer type (There are different kinds.)
  • Cancer stage (How much has the cancer grown and spread?) 
  • Cancer location (Where is the tumor? Is there more than one?)
  • General health (How are you feeling? What types of treatment can you tolerate?)
  • Personal and family preferences (What are your beliefs and needs?)

Most plans include more than one kind of treatment. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are common cancer treatments. Some plans include all three. 

What to expect at PeaceHealth

As you begin treatment, our medical expertise and advanced technologies focus on stopping the cancer so you can get back to living your life. At the same time, we never forget about the person at the center of it all: you. 

  • Surgery: Your doctor may recommend an operation to remove cancer cells and tumors. If your cancer has advanced to a later stage, you may consider having a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). If you choose surgery, PeaceHealth’s skilled surgeons will use the least invasive option possible, so you can recover quicker.
  • Chemotherapy: This treatment uses powerful medicines to damage cancer cells, shrink tumors and slow cancer’s growth. Chemotherapy is often combined with other treatments for gynecological cancers. We have hundreds of chemo medications to choose from, depending on your needs.
  • Radiation therapy: PeaceHealth radiation centers use advanced technology like intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery to effectively target cancer cells and avoid healthy cells. This can mean fewer treatments and faster recovery.
  • Hormone therapy: This type of treatment involves medication that regulates your hormones to stop or slow cancer’s spread.
  • Immunotherapy: This newer treatment boosts your body’s natural defenses against cancer.
  • Clinical trials: Your PeaceHealth provider will let you know if there’s a clinical trial or research study that’s right for you. If there is, you may be able to access newer treatments for your type of cancer. 

Why choose PeaceHealth 

We see you as a complex person, not just somebody with cancer. That’s why gynecological cancer care at PeaceHealth includes more than doctor appointments and medical treatments. 

  • Whole-person care: Cancer can affect all of you: body, mind and spirit. If you need help from a social worker, family counseling, nutrition advice, financial aid or spiritual guidance, PeaceHealth has skilled, compassionate people on staff and ready to support you. 
  • Nurse navigators or care coordinators: In addition to doctors and other specialists, your care team includes a nurse who is dedicated to helping you plan for care. They are available to answer questions, help with scheduling and be your advocate throughout your time with us. 
  • Integrated services: Along with traditional medical care, we offer complementary care to make life a little easier. This includes options like yoga, nutrition classes, support groups, advanced care planning and survivorship classes. We also have a wig and hat bank to help you manage hair loss, a common side effect of chemotherapy treatment.
  • Continuing care: Gynecological cancer care doesn’t always end when your treatments are done. You may choose to do rehab, physical therapy or reconstructive surgery as part of your continuing care. Regular cancer screenings are important, too.

Next steps

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a gynecological cancer, you suddenly have a lot to manage. Now is a time you might want extra support from friends, family and your healthcare providers. PeaceHealth is here to help. 

To learn more, contact a cancer center near you, research PeaceHealth cancer specialists or visit our health information library for useful resources and tips.