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Gynecological Cancers

Types of Adult Gynecologic Cancers

  • Vulvar – cancer that occurs on the outer surface area of female genitals. There are two different types of Vulvar Cancers 1) Squamous Cell Carcinoma which form in the cells and make up the vulva and, 2) Adenocarcinoma which develops in the glands nears the vulva.
  • Cervical – malignant tumor of the cervix, and forms in the lowermost part of the uterus.
  • Ovarian – cancer growth in cells that form in the ovaries. The cells multiply quickly and can invade and destroy healthy body tissue.
  • Uterine – cancer that begins in the layer of cells that form the lining (endometrium) of the uterus. 
  • Vaginal – occurs in the vagina — the muscular tube that connects your uterus with your outer genitals. This is a rare form of gynecologic cancer. 
  • Fallopian Tube – develops in the fallopian tubes that connect the ovaries and the uterus and is also referred to as tubal cancer. This type of cancer is also considered a rare form. 

Diagnostic Tools

Diagnostic tools are tests or procedures that are used to determine if an area is benign or malignant. It may take several of these tests to get a precise diagnosis and this process is critical in creating a personalized care plan for the patient. It is our goal to guide each patient through the process and determine best next steps. 

Imaging

  • CT scans, which use X-rays to create cross-sectional images of the area of concern.

  • MRI scans, which use radio waves and strong magnets to create detailed images of soft tissue. Like CT scans, they can produce detailed images of the tissue in the area of concern. 

  • PET scans, which use fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) injected into the body to illuminate cancer cells. It’s also useful in determining if cancer has spread beyond the initial site. 

  • PET/CT scans, which combine the technology of both to give the doctor an even more detailed image.

Other Tools

  • Biopsies are the most common tool to obtain tissue for diagnosing any type of gynecologic cancer.
  • Colposcopy use a colposcope (lighted, magnifying instrument) to examine the vulva, vagina and cervix for signs of abnormal tissue.
  • Endoscopy examines inside the pelvic organs using various types of scopes. Endoscopes are thin tubes with lighted cameras to see inside the body.

Treatment Options

Surgical Oncology 

Hysterectomy – the surgical removal of the uterus. For more advanced forms of cancer, surgery is usually the appropriate option.

Medical Oncology

Medical Oncology uses chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted drug therapy to focus on specific mutations and to eliminate cancer cells. Chemotherapy is typically part of the treatment for lung cancer. This is because the cancerous cells have usually already spread by the time it is found, so other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy would not reach all areas of cancer. 

Radiation Oncology

Radiation therapy uses powerful energy sources, such as X-rays and protons, to eliminate cancer cells. It might be used to shrink a large cancer before an operation so that it can be removed more easily. When surgery isn’t an option, radiation therapy might be used to relieve symptoms, such as pain. Sometimes radiation is combined with chemotherapy.

Survivorship Resources/Patient Education

Although cancer doesn’t have to define you, the disease changes your life in a number of ways. You’ll have to deal with the immediate and long-term physical effects of treatment, ongoing screening and monitoring, new concerns about staying healthy and a wide range of emotions.

This post-treatment period is called survivorship. While survivorship varies from patient to patient, there are some common concerns that often affect cancer survivors. We encourage you to follow up with your specialist and team for local recommendations regarding survivorship resources and support programs. 

Screenings

The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.

The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes.

Talk with your OB/GYN physician to learn more about when it’s the right time to schedule a screening.

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