Gynecologic cancer care in Denver
As part of the HealthONE Physician Group network, our oncologists offer comprehensive treatment for gynecologic cancers. It is always our goal to merge empathetic care with cutting-edge medical treatments. For our patients with gynecologic cancer (cancer of the female reproductive system), we seek to partner with you and your loved ones to ensure your total health and wellness.
Schedule a visit with one of our gynecologic oncologists by making an appointment.
Gynecologic oncology care
Our women's health providers offer diagnostic services, treatment options and survivorship support for women with gynecologic cancer. We offer digital imaging, radiation therapy and complex robot-assisted surgery to ensure you get the precise combination of treatments you need.
Gynecologic cancers are cancers of the female reproductive system. They include:
- Cervical cancer
- Fallopian cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Uterine / endometrial cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Vulvar cancer
Most women are screened for cervical cancer by their primary gynecologist at their annual well-woman exam. The Papanicolaou, or Pap, smear has greatly reduced the prevalence of cervical cancer because, when detected early, it is highly treatable. It is caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). The signs and symptoms of cervical cancer include:
- Bleeding after intercourse
- Urinary frequency or pain
- Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge
Treatment for cervical cancer
Early-stage cancer of the cervix can be treated with a hysterectomy and removal of the lymph nodes. More advanced cancer is usually treated with a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Cancer of the ovaries is difficult to detect and is often not caught until it has already spread to other areas. The most common type of ovarian cancer cell is epithelial. Some tumors are benign (noncancerous) and never spread beyond the ovary. Symptoms associated with ovarian cancer include:
- Bloating, abdominal discomfort
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Early satiety (feeling full quickly when eating)
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite
- Urinary frequency
Treatments for ovarian cancer
Some patients undergo surgery to remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. Your surgeon may also need to remove abnormal tissues which could include a section of bowel, appendix, omentum and lymph nodes. Chemotherapy may also be indicated.
An ovarian cyst diagnosis usually does not mean you have cancer. A cyst is a small, fluid-filled growth that is rarely cancerous, especially in pre-menopausal women. Younger women may develop cysts on the ovary, which can be felt on exam. Some cysts may be followed by ultrasound and may go away on their own. Others will require surgical removal.
Uterine cancer — cancer of the uterus and uterine lining — is the most common form of gynecologic cancer. Also called endometrial cancer, it is most likely to occur in women aged 55 years and older. Symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding (between periods or after menopause), unexplained weight loss, pain during sex and pelvic pain, although some women experience no symptoms. Risk factors include never being pregnant or having children, early menarche, late menopause, obesity and unopposed estrogen therapy.
Treatments for uterine cancer
Surgery is usually the treatment of choice and includes hysterectomy with removal of the fallopian tubes, ovaries and pelvic lymph nodes. Other treatments include radiation, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.
Vaginal cancer represents 1 to 2 percent of female genital tract malignancies. It most often appears in the cells that line the surface of your vagina. Risk factors for vaginal cancer are low socioeconomic status, prior hysterectomy for cervical dysplasia or cancer and a history of HPV infection. Symptoms include painless vaginal bleeding, frequent urination, a lump or mass in your vagina and unusual vaginal discharge. Surgery and radiation are the standard treatment, although new treatment options are emerging.
Vulvar cancer represents 3 to 5 percent of female genital cancers. While it typically appears in older patients, it can occur at any age. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, prior HPV infection, diabetes, low socioeconomic status and prior cervical cancer.
Signs and symptoms of vulvar cancer include bleeding or discharge, burning or pain, a lump or ulcerative lesion and chronic itching.
Treatments for vulvar cancer
Surgical treatments include a wide local excision, which involves removing the affected area and surrounding margins, and a radical vulvectomy, or removal of the vulva. Surgical treatment will be less complex when vulvar cancer is caught early. Additional treatments include radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
Radiation for gynecologic cancer
Patients will often need radiation as part of their gynecologic cancer treatment. We offer the latest radiation treatment options that are not available through other providers. These advanced cancer therapies can place radiation treatment directly to the site of the tumor — delivering the most effective radiation dose while avoiding healthy tissue. Some of the radiation treatments we offer are:
- External beam radiation therapy
- High dose-rate brachytherapy
- Image-guided radiation therapy
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy
- Stereotactic body radiotherapy
- Stereotactic radiosurgery
Surgery for gynecologic cancer
Facing cancer is hard enough, which is why we always strive to use the least invasive method possible for cancer surgery. Our gynecological oncologists perform a range of surgeries from diagnostic laparoscopy to complex abdominal procedures. Specific surgeries we perform include:
- Argon beam coagulation — a procedure using an electric current to remove affected tissue
- Biopsies — a diagnostic procedure to remove sample tissue or cells for further examination
- Cystoscopy — a laparoscopic exam inside the bladder
- Hysterectomy — the removal of the uterus
- Hysteroscopy — a laparoscopic examination of the uterus
- Oophorectomy — the removal of one or both ovaries
- Oophoropexy — the suspension of the ovaries
- Ostomy — large intestine formation and revision
- Ovarian cancer debulking — a procedure to remove as much of the tumor as possible
- Paracentesis — a diagnostic procedure that removes fluid from the abdomen using a needle or catheter
- Partial urethrectomy — the removal of some of the urethra
- Pelvic lymphadenectomy — the removal of pelvic lymph nodes
- Salpingo-oophorectomy — the removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes
- Ureterolysis — surgery of the ureter
- Vaginectomy — the removal of the vagina
- Vulvectomy – the removal of some or all of the vulva
Minimally invasive and robotic surgery
We are proud to offer the latest surgical technologies for treating gynecologic cancers. Minimally invasive gynecologic surgery (MIGS) can be used in both cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Our expert surgeons have extensive training in and experience with the use of robot-assisted surgery to treat gynecologic cancer. During the procedure, your surgeon remains in charge while the technology allows for more precise movements and clearer, high-definition visuals. The benefits of robotic surgery are:
- Smaller incisions
- Less blood loss during surgery
- Minimal scarring
- Faster recovery