Cancers of the Reproductive System
What is gynecologic cancer?
Gynecologic cancers attack a woman's reproductive organs, including the cervix, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina and vulva. Each year, approximately 82,000 women are diagnosed with cancer of the reproductive organs, including ovarian cancer and cervical cancer.
What is a gynecologic oncologist?
A gynecologic oncologist is a physician first trained in obstetrics and gynecology and has three to four additional years of training in gynecologic cancers. These gynecology oncology specialists combine knowledge of gynecology with expertise in detecting and treating cancers of the female reproductive system.
The Cleveland Clinic gynecologic oncologists are among approximately 600 gynecologists in the United States who are board-certified in gynecologic oncology, as well as obstetrics and gynecology by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Who is at risk for gynecologic cancer?
The following are risk factors for different kinds of gynecologic cancers. Each cancer has its own general risk factors, and may affect women in various ways. Every woman is different, so talk to your doctor or gynecology oncology specialist about any questions or concerns you may have.
Risk factors include:
Download our Guide to Gynecological Cancer
- Post menopausal (over age 50)
- Endometrial hyperplasia – a condition where the cells of the endometrium are abnormal
- Cervical dysplasia – a condition where the cervical cells are abnormal
- High blood sugar
- Other cancers (colon, rectal, breast)
- Early age of first menstruation
- Women who have never been pregnant
- Hormone-related issues
- Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
What are common symptoms of gynecologic cancers?
Women with the following symptoms should consult a gynecologic oncologist:
- A change in bowel or bladder habits
- A sore that does not heal
- Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Thickening or lump that either causes pain or can be seen in the pelvic area
- Pain or pressure in the pelvic area
Did you know?
Women who seek the care of a specially trained gynecology oncology specialist before any surgical or medical treatment increase their odds for total cure.
What gynecology oncology services are provided at The Cleveland Clinic?
- Access to the latest techniques in the management of gynecologic cancers including the newest drug treatments and access to clinical trials through our membership in the Gynecologic Oncology Group, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.
- Minimally invasive surgery (robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery) used in the management of some early cervical, uterine and ovarian cancers, including lymph node dissections and other staging procedures.
- A gynecology chemotherapy unit located within the department for patient convenience and staffed by specially trained nurses.
- The Radiation Therapy Center provides the latest, most sophisticated radiation therapy equipment and the latest gynecology oncology treatments, such as interstitial therapy to custom -design delivery of radiation.
- Color Doppler flow imaging: studies that identify blood flow changes associated with early ovarian cancer tumor.
- The LEEP procedure, which uses state-of-the-art technology to remove precancerous cells from the cervix more easily.
A Team Approach
The Cleveland Clinic's team approach of involving multiple specialists can be the most important factor in long-term survival. Gynecologic pathologists, radiologists, medical oncologists and other Clinic specialists collaborate to provide a careful blend of accurate diagnosis, surgical skill, leading-edge radiation therapy and advanced chemotherapy.
Cleveland Clinic gynecologic oncologists understand the fear and uncertainty a diagnosis of cancer bring. Our specialized services and supportive care, such as access to support groups and home care, arranged by clinical nurse specialists who also provide counseling, are available to help you through this difficult time.
For your convenience, we have east and west side locations including Cleveland Clinic main campus, Hillcrest Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic facility at the Fairview Hospital Moll Cancer Center.
For more information about gynecologic cancers and treatment options, or to make an appointment, please call the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at 216.444.6601 or 800.223.2273, ext. 46601.
Cervical Cancer Screening
Thanks to recent advances in understanding the cause of cervical cancer, screening for this disease has now become more accurate and therefore more preventable.
Cervical cancer is caused by the presence and persistence of the human papilloma virus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted disease. The combined use of HPV testing and the traditional pap test, especially in women over the age of 30 is now the new standard. Additionally, the availability of the HPV vaccine will likely reduce the number of cervical cancer cases in the future.
Cleveland Clinic Gynecologic Oncology Team