Gynecologic oncology is the field of medicine that focuses on cancers of the female reproductive organs. These cancers form as a result of abnormal cell growth in the cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, vagina, and vulva. Gynecologic oncologists specialize in treating these cancers, having received advanced education in both gynecology and obstetrics, as well as additional training in gynecologic oncology. At BASS Medical Group, each of our gynecologic oncologists is board certified and is qualified to diagnose, manage, and treat the following conditions:
- Cervical Cancer
- Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD)
- Primary Peritoneal Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Uterine/Endometrial Cancer
- Vaginal Cancer
- Vulvar Cancer
Gynecologic cancers, like most cancers, are caused by a malfunction with the genes that regulate excessive cell growth and prevent tumors. Factors such as smoking, aging, inherited mutations, or human papilloma virus (HPV) can all contribute to the dysfunction of these genes. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, and is the main reason cervical cancer develops. While some HPV strains can be harmless, others have the potential to cause normal tissue to turn into cancerous cells.
Every woman is at risk for developing a gynecologic cancer, but there are simple ways to ensure that any abnormalities are caught before they turn into a larger medical issue. While regular screening tests are the most effective way to find a disease in its earliest stages, cervical cancer is the only gynecological cancer for which such a test exists. The test, called a Pap smear, looks for precancerous cells in the cervix. If you are above the age of 21, and have an average risk of getting cervical cancer, it is recommended that you get a Pap smear every three years. There is also a variety of vaccines that protect against the most common cancer-causing strains of HPV; they can be administered to anyone ages 9 to 26.
Regardless of your risk level, performing self-examinations and paying attention to your body are the two best ways to spot abnormalities. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- The frequent urge to urinate
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in the appearance of the vulva
- Pain or tenderness of the vulva
If you or your gynecologist suspect that you have cancer, we recommend making an appointment with a gynecologic oncologist. Seeking care from a specialist is important as they are more qualified to provide you with a comprehensive recommendation. In the event you are diagnosed, the expertise, experience, and skills that a specialist possesses give you a higher chance of a better outcome.
At BASS, our gynecologic oncologists are ready to work with you to create a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual health and condition. It will most likely involve a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. Throughout the entire process, our specialist will coordinate with the members of your treatment team to ensure the highest standards of care are being met, and will patiently answer any questions you may have. In addition to developing and managing your treatment plan, they are trained to perform:
- Cytoreductive surgery for ovarian cancer
- Fertility sparing surgery for cervical cancer
- Surgically complex treatment of benign gynecologic diseases
- Minimally invasive robotic surgery for treatment of gynecologic cancer
- Sentienel lymph node in uterine cancer
- Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy for the treatment of peritoneal malignancies
At BASS, our gynecologic oncologists understand that compassion, patience, and communication are vital to building productive patient-physician partnerships. Our specialists are aware of the fear and confusion that can arise when you are given a serious diagnosis, and they are ready consult, educate, and guide you so that you can make informed decisions regarding your own health. To receive quality, professional care please give us a call at (925) 393-0033 to schedule an appointment.