At Orange County CyberKnife, we’re proud to provide world-class cancer treatment services to patients throughout the greater Orange County, CA area. We strive to prioritize nonsurgical, noninvasive treatments, opting for convenient options like CyberKnife whenever possible. We believe that patient education is a vital part of the cancer treatment process, so we’ve compiled some of the most common questions about gynecologic cancer along with their answers.
Any form of gynecologic cancer is a serious condition, and if you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed, we know how difficult of an experience that is – but the cancer treatment experts at OC CyberKnife are here to help. We’ve helped countless patients throughout the Orange County area beat cancer, and no matter what you’re up against, we’d be thrilled to do the same with you. Call us today at 714.962.7100 to learn more or schedule a consultation. We look forward to speaking with you.
This is a doctor that specializes in treating cancer of women’s reproductive organs. They usually start as an obstetrician or gynecologist.
Generally, gynecologic oncologists are called in to treat women who’ve already been diagnosed with some form of gynecologic cancer.
This is a precancerous condition affecting the cervix where cervical cells look abnormal but aren’t quite cancerous yet. Any precancerous condition is a cause for concern and should be monitored with continuous testing to see if the cells morph into cancer.
Precancerous lesions like cervical dysplasia rarely cause any kind of symptoms, so diagnosis is usually dependent on regular preventive screenings like pap smears. Sexually active women of any age should generally have a pap smear once a year to look for signs of cancer or precancer.
It depends on the specific case. Many instances of mild dysplasia disappear on their own, so some women will choose to simply monitor the condition. You should discuss the best course of action with your physician.
The HPV virus is the most common and largest risk factor for cervical cancer. Other factors include more than five sexual partners over a lifetime, intercourse at an early age, and smoking.
Unfortunately, cervical cancer often produces no symptoms, especially early on. Most women find out they have cervical cancer through a preventive test like a pap smear. If it does produce symptoms, common signs include persistent bleeding after intercourse, irregular menstrual spotting, or postmenopausal bleeding.
Again, because most cases of cervical cancer don’t produce symptoms early on, they’re often discovered through a preventive pap smear. If the pap smear comes back abnormal, your doctor will likely order another test called a colposcopy. If cancer is suspected, your doctor will take a biopsy and send it to a pathologist to make a diagnosis.
There are several treatments available for cervical cancer, and different treatments may be appropriate for specific cases. The most common treatment is surgery or removal of abnormal tissue using a specialized electrode or a laser, but chemotherapy and radiation therapy are both viable options as well.
This acronym stands for loop electrosurgical excision procedure. It’s a common treatment for cervical dysplasia.
A cervical cone biopsy is essentially the same as a regular biopsy, but it involves removing more tissue in the form of a deeper, cone-shaped excision. This technique can be effective in treating early stage cervical cancer while preserving fertility.
The most significant risk factors for endometrial cancer include obesity, nulliparity (never having been pregnant), diabetes, use of Tamoxifen, taking estrogen replacements without progesterone, anovulation (having a menstrual cycle but not ovulating), and polycystic ovarian syndrome. In general, exposure to excessive levels of estrogen or exposure to unopposed estrogen increases your risk.
Postmenopausal bleeding is the most common symptom, although significant changes to the menstrual cycle like excessive bleeding are also a sign. Any woman who has risk factors for endometrial cancer and experiences abnormal bleeding should seek further evaluation.
Endometrial cancer is diagnosed through a biopsy, where a doctor will insert a tiny catheter into the uterus to take a small tissue sample for analysis. If more tissue is needed, the biopsy may be taken surgically, under anesthesia.
Endometrial cancer is a serious condition, so often, the best course of action is to surgically remove the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Lymph nodes may also be removed during the surgery, and your doctor may recommend combining surgery with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy as well.
All women have a risk for developing ovarian cancer, although those with close relatives with ovarian cancer, a family history of breast cancer, or with Lynch II syndrome have a higher risk.
The most common signs of ovarian cancer include bloating, an enlarged abdomen, and urinary symptoms. Unfortunately, these symptoms are vague and could be attributed to a variety of issues, so diagnosis is often difficult.
Unlike cervical cancer, which has the Pap smear, there are no preliminary screening tests for ovarian cancer. Often, diagnosis ovarian cancer requires surgery and complete removal of the mass in question. You and your doctor should discuss your options to determine the best path forward.
Surgery is always required for diagnosis and treatment, and chemotherapy is often used as well. Your gynecologic oncologist will talk with you to decide on the best treatment course for your specific case.
The largest risk factor is a history of HPV, usually with genital warts. Multiple sex partners and smoking may also increase the risk, particularly for women under 65 years old. Elderly women can develop vulvar cancer from years of chronic vulvar irritation. Unfortunately, many women feel embarrassed about this irritation and don’t seek treatment, leading to cancer that could have been prevented if addressed earlier on.
The most common signs of vulvar cancer are a mass or sore on the genitalia that won’t heal, often on the labia majora. Some women also experience chronic itching or pain, although any form of abnormal discharge may be a sign of vulvar cancer.
Most women develop a mass or a non healing sore in their genitalia, the most common site being their labia majora. Many times they experience chronic itching and eventual pain. Any abnormal discharge or bleeding from the genital area can also be a sign of vulvar cancer.
Usually, vulvar cancer is diagnosed through a biopsy and microscopic examination.
If the cancer is early stage and relatively small, surgical removal may be effective as a treatment. However, for cancers that have grown larger, radiation therapy or chemotherapy are often required as well.
As with many other gynecologic cancers, the most significant risk factors include HPV, genital warts, multiple sexual partners, and smoking. A previous diagnosis of cervical dysplasia or cancer is another important risk factor, and any women with a history of these issues should receive regular Pap smears.
As with cervical dysplasia, these are precancerous conditions affecting the vulva or vagina where cells look abnormal, but are not yet cancerous. Carcinoma in situ and vaginal or vulvar intraepithelial neoplasm, often abbreviated as VAIN or VIN, are both related conditions.
Normally, these conditions are detected by a Pap smear and then a colposcopy and biopsy are used as followups to make a diagnosis.