Penn Medicine pioneered the subspecialty of gynecologic oncology. Gynecologic Oncology is a highly specialized discipline that provides advanced technology and expertise for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer of the female reproductive system.
Being diagnosed with any type of cancer can be a frightening and confusing experience, leaving you wondering what to do first and what comes next. At Penn Medicine, our gynecologic oncologists can answer questions you didn't know you should ask and help you understand your treatment options.
As part of the Abramson Cancer Center, you'll also have broader access to resources, specialists and staff who will work closely with your team and your primary care physician to make sure the lines of communication and care are in place.
The team at Penn has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating all types of gynecologic cancer, including:
- Cervical cancer
- Endometrial and uterine cancer
- Fallopian tube cancer
- Gestational trophoblastic disease
- Ovarian cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Vulvar cancer
When it comes to treating gynecologic cancer, there are a number of different treatments that are considered the standard of care. This does not necessarily mean that these are the only available options. In fact, the research, diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic cancer have become highly personalized based on genetic markers, family history and other factors unique to your diagnosis. Clinical studies are also another source of information, insight and hope into how that standard of care is being improved and outcomes, changed.
The best treatment for you will depend on the type and stage of the cancer you have and other factors that may be present. These are just a few of the treatment options available, which your team can explain.
- Radiation Treatment Options
- Proton Therapy
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
- External radiation
- Intensity-modulated radiation treatment (IMRT)
- Three-dimensional(3-D) conformal radiation treatment
- Stereotatic radiosurgery
If you need radiation therapy, your gynecologic oncologist will arrange a consultation with a radiation oncologist who specializes in treating your type of cancer. Our radiation oncologists direct your treatment and use the latest equipment and technology available. Penn radiation oncologists are recognized leaders in techniques that target radiation precisely to the treatment area while sparing normal tissue.
- Chemotherapy Treatment Options
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy).
A type of regional chemotherapy used to treat ovarian cancer is intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy. In IP chemotherapy, the anticancer drugs are carried directly into the peritoneal cavity (the space that contains the abdominal organs) through a thin tube. Treatment with more than one anticancer drug is called combination chemotherapy. The way the chemotherapy is administered depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Surgery is the most common treatment for ovarian germ cell tumors. A doctor may remove the cancer using one of the following types of surgery:
- Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
- Sterotatic radiosurgery
- Total hysterectomy
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
- Lymph node biopsy
Penn offers patients alternatives to traditional open surgery through minimally invasive surgery and robotic-assisted surgical solutions. Surgical recovery time can now be shortened due to advances in robotic technology. When applied to gynecologic conditions, robotic surgery can be used to treat cervical and uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse and excessive bleeding.
- Treatments That Are Being Studied In Clinical Trials
- Biologic therapy is a treatment that uses the patient's immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer. This type of cancer treatment is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy.
- Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells.