Improving the Lives of Women
Pennsylvania Hospital's gynecologic oncologists
treat one of the largest volumes of gynecologic
cancer cases in the Delaware Valley, including
cancers of the ovary, uterus and cervix as
well as less common cancers and other complex
gynecologic conditions. “Our goal is to
improve the care and treatment of women with
all types of gynecologic cancer,” says Thomas
Randall, MD, director of gynecologic oncology
at Pennsylvania Hospital.
As such, physicians
and surgeons have been perfecting minimally invasive
surgical techniques and bloodless medicine for
gynecologic cancers. “These advances should
improve recovery times and reduce the risk of
infection,” says Dr. Randall.
More than 46,000 women each year are diagnosed
with endometrial cancer. While it is the most common gynecologic
cancer, endometrial cancer also offers one of the highest cure rates – approximately
70 percent of endometrial cancers found in the early stages can
be cured. Standard treatment for endometrial cancer is often an abdominal
hysterectomy. But thanks to advances in minimally invasive surgery,
the Joan Karnell Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital is one of
the few hospitals to offer a laparoscopic approach to a hysterectomy
for women with endometrial cancer.
“The main difference between a hysterectomy performed laparoscopically
and an open abdominal hysterectomy is the size of the incision,” says
Dr. Randall. “The laparoscopic procedure requires four small
incisions approximately 1/2-inch in size compared to the open abdominal
incision,which is typically six to seven inches. With a smaller incision,
you avoid the complications associated with a larger incision like
infection or hernia.” Laparoscopic procedures are becoming more
common with other gynecologic cancers as well, including cervical
and ovarian cancer.
It may not be surprising that heavy menstrual
cycles can make a woman somewhat anemic,
causing fatigue and/or shortness of breath. However, in women who
are preparing for gynecologic surgery, the blood loss associated
both with their menstrual cycles and the surgery can drop their
hemoglobin to very low levels. For those patients who undergo gynecological
surgery and who wish to avoid blood transfusions for personal or
religious reasons, the Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery
at Pennsylvania Hospital can help.
“We see two to three gynecological surgery patients each week,” says Patricia
Ford, MD, medical director of the Center for Bloodless Medicine
and Surgery. “These patients do not want to receive blood
transfusions either because they are fearful of contamination or
they are often Jehovah's Witnesses.” Whatever the reason,
the Center ensures that all staff honors the patient's decision.
The Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery prepares these patients
for surgery by increasing their hemoglobin levels through the use
of intravenously delivered iron and/or other medications that promote
the growth of red blood cells. If the surgery is scheduled, patients
usually begin bloodless treatment about three to four weeks prior.
Patients' hemoglobin levels are then monitored during and after
surgery to reduce any chance of anemia.
For more information about gynecologic oncology services at the Joan
Karnell Cancer Center, call 1-800-789-PENN (7366).
You can also request an appointment online.