Coordinated, comprehensive, cutting-edge gynecologic cancer care, from diagnosis through survivorship.
Compared to other types of cancer (like breast or colon cancer), gynecologic cancers are uncommon, occurring in about 100,000 women in the United States each year. That said, all women are at risk for developing gynecologic cancers, and the risk increases with age. It’s important to know the warning signs, as treatments are most effective when the cancer is found at an early stage.
At Middlesex Health, our patient-centered care approach combines the latest methods of detecting and treating gynecologic cancer with compassionate care provided in a safe, welcoming environment.
Our specialists understand the impact gynecologic cancer can have on your fertility, sexual function, and psychological health. We consider your age, health, and plans for growing a family when recommending treatment options that will minimize the impact on your fertility and sexuality.
Early cancer detection can be key to successful treatment, so it is important to understand what increases your risk of gynecologic cancers. Risk factors can include:
- A family history of cancer
- A weakened immune system
- Being HIV positive
- Having Lichen Sclerosus
- Infection with the Human Papilloma Virus
- Long-term use of estrogen therapy
- Nulliparity (never having given birth)
Symptoms of Gynecologic Cancer may include:
- A feeling of pressure in the pelvis or lower back
- A vaginal bump, lump, sore, or ulcer
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Indigestion and/or nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Needing to urinate more frequently
- Persistent abdominal bloating
- Vaginal discharge
- Vaginal Itching
- Vaginal odor
If you are having any of these symptoms, which can also be signs of non-cancerous conditions, it is important to speak to your physician.
There are several different types of tests for vaginal cancer.
Biopsy: A small amount of tissue is removed. The doctor will then examine the tissue to check for abnormal and cancerous cells.
CA125 Blood Test: CA125 is often called a "biomarker" or "tumor marker," as it provides information about the biological state of a disease. CA125 can be detected in the blood.
Colposcopy: This exam allows your doctor to see a magnified view of the cells of the cervix, vagina, and vulva.
CT Scan: The combination of a series of X-rays to create detailed images of the inside of your abdomen and pelvis.
Hysteroscopy: A thin tube with a light is inserted into the vagina to examine the cervix and inside of the uterus.
MRI: This test uses magnetic waves to create detailed pictures of the inside of the pelvis.
Pap Smear & HPV Test: Your doctor will collect cells from the cervix to check for abnormalities and determine if HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is present.
Pelvic Exam: A physical examination of the external and internal female pelvic organs.
Pelvic Ultrasound: A scan of the organs and structures of the pelvis. There are two types of ultrasound:
- Transabdominal: a "wand" with gel is placed on the outside of the abdomen (belly area)
- Transvaginal: a "wand" covered with a plastic or latex sheet and gel is placed into the vagina
PET Scan: A scan of the entire body to determine if cancer has spread elsewhere in your body. PET scans can sometimes detect disease before it appears on other imaging tests.
The treatment plan your doctor may choose is based on several factors: type of cancer, grade and stage of cancer, your overall health, and your treatment preferences.
Surgery is used to remove cancerous tissue from the body. Your surgeon will determine which approach is most appropriate, depending on the exact type and stage of the cancer.
Chemotherapy for gynecologic cancers involves using medications to shrink or kill cancerous cells. These medications may be taken intravenously (IV) or as pills.
Radiation oncology is the highly-controlled use of radiation to cure or treat symptoms of your cancer.
Meet our Gynecologic Cancer Nurse Navigator
Nurse Navigators are specialized Registered Nurses who guide patients through their cancer journey. They can provide education and support, and they help connect patients to other supportive services, such as social work or nutritional counseling.
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