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Gynecologic Oncology

Gynecologic oncology is a subspecialty of obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) devoted to diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the female reproductive system (also called gynecologic cancers). Physicians who specialize in this area of OB/GYN are referred to as gynecologic oncologists. Gynecologic oncologists first complete training in the specialty of OB/GYN before completing advanced training in gynecologic oncology.

Cancer can affect any part of the female reproductive system, including the:

  • Ovaries -- the small organs where eggs are formed during a woman's reproductive years. One or both ovaries can be affected by ovarian cancer.
  • Uterus ("womb") -- which consists of an inner layer or lining called the endometrium and an outer layer of muscle called the myometrium. Uterine cancer that starts in the endometrium is more common. Uterine cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer.
  • Cervix -- which is located at the lower portion of the uterus and separates the vagina from the uterus. Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by infection with a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Fallopian tubes -- the tubes that lead from the ovaries to the uterus. Fallopian cancer is commonly grouped under an ovarian cancer diagnosis.
  • Vagina ("birth canal") -- which starts at the cervix and extends to the outside of the body. Vaginal cancer is considered a very rare cancer.
  • Vulva -- which is the outer part of the female genitals and consists of the vaginal opening, the labia, and the clitoris. Vulvar cancer is considered very rare.

Gynecologic oncologists have training in both surgical and medical treatment of gynecologic cancers. They perform surgery to remove cancerous tumors, which often involves removing the organ affected by the cancer as well as nearby lymph nodes and neighboring tissue that may contain cancer cells. Gynecologic oncologists also administer chemotherapy, treat cancer recurrences, and perform research in clinical studies to investigate potential new treatments for gynecologic cancer.

Gynecologic oncologists have an important role in the care of women with cancer, but treating cancer involves a team approach. When a woman is diagnosed with a gynecologic malignancy, gynecologic oncologists work to coordinate the patient's cancer care with other members of the cancer team.

The cancer team typically consists of several different physician specialists and health care professionals, including radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, advanced practice nurses and nurse navigators, and physician assistants. The team's goal is to provide comprehensive care for each patient for the best possible outcome and quality of life.


Gynecology Oncology and Chester County Hospital

For more information about gynecologic oncologists on the Medical Staff at Chester County Hospital, call our Physician Referral Service at 800-789-PENN (7366) or visit the Find a Doctor section of our website.

Last Updated: 5/14/2014