Overview – Gynecologic Oncology is also known as gynecologic cancer. However, it is a subspecialty of cancer studies specific to the types of cancer that affect the female reproductive organs. Moreover, cancer is a disease that occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control. Consequently, if this abnormal cell growth is not well managed, it can spread to the body’s other organs.
However, gynecologic cancer often starts in the female’s pelvic region between the hip bone and below the stomach. In addition, medical practitioners that specialize in the treatment of gynecologic oncology are gynecologic oncologists. They spend quality time studying the complexities of reproductive cancer. Women living with this type of cancer can receive treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery.
Gynecologic Oncology refers to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of abnormal cell growth in a woman’s reproductive organs/systems. Above all, this type of cancer develops in the compartment of the female pelvic region. These compartments consist of the cervix, uterus, fallopian tube, vagina, ovaries, and vulva.
Types/Symptoms of Gynecologic Oncology
Furthermore, you must pay attention and take conscious steps towards knowing what is normal for your body. There are several types of gynecologic cancer, and in their early stages, they show no signs or symptoms. These include;
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Vulvar cancer
- Pelvic masses
In addition, we will discuss briefly the commonest of all the gynecologic oncology types above. You should contact your health practitioner to be able to make an informed decision regarding the best possible ways to manage your cancer.
Firstly, this occurs mainly in the lower part of the uterus (cervix). In addition, strains of Human papillomavirus (HPV) play a vital role in causing cervical cancer. However, HPV is a virus that transmits sexually and can stay alive for years. Therefore, it will contribute to the abnormal growth of cervical cells. Finally, patients with this type of cancer often get surgical treatment known as “hysterectomy” ( removal of the cervix and uterus).
Symptoms of Cervical cancer
- Severe and unbearable pain in the pelvic region
- Pain during Sexual intercourse
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse.
Types of Cervical cancer
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This gynecologic oncology persist in the flat cells (Squamous cells) that lines the outer region of the cervix
- Adenocarcinoma: This occurs in the glandular cell that appears in the cervical canal
Secondly, this type of cancer occurs when an abnormal cell grows in the ovary. However, these cells can multiply rapidly and destroy healthy body tissues. Therefore, surgery is the main treatment for this type of cancer.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
- Swollen abdomen
- Sudden weight loss
- Pain in the pelvic region
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Unexplainable fatigue.
Types of Ovarian Cancer
- Epithelial Ovarian Cancer: This is the commonest and includes serous carcinoma and mucinous carcinoma
- Stromal Tumor: In addition, this occurs in the early stage of Ovarian cancer
- Germ cell Tumor: This occurs in younger women.
In addition, this refers to Uterine cancer and it occurs in the uterus. This type of cancer usually persists when the cell layer of your uterus known as “endometrium” grows abnormally. This shows that Endometrial or Uterine cancer is present.
Symptoms of Endometrial cancer
- Severe pain in the pelvic area
- Bleeding/discharge from the vagina
Furthermore, this type of gynecologic oncology occurs in the cells that line the surface of your vagina. However, Oncologists make us understand that other types of reproductive cancer can spread to your vagina. But this type primarily begins in your vagina, and it is rare.
Symptoms of Vaginal cancer
- Vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain
- Lump or mass in the vagina
- Vagina bleeding
In addition, vaginal cancer comes with its own types. Which includes:
- Vaginal squamous cell carcinoma: This is the commonest of all types of Vaginal cancer. It also affects the thin flat cells that lines the vaginal surface.
- Vaginal melanoma: This begins with the pigment-producing cells of your vagina
- Vaginal sarcoma: This occurs in the muscle cell of the vaginal wall.
Finally, the vulva consists of the area of the skin that is found around the urethra, vagina, clitoris, and labia. Furthermore, this type of cancer is common in adults and can cause a sore or lump on the vulva.
Symptoms of Vulvar cancer
- Itching on the vulva
- Tenderness of the vulva
- Skin changes on the vulva
- Obvious lumps
- Open sore
Types of Vulvar Cancer
- Vulvar squamous cell carcinoma
- Vulvar melanoma
Risk factors for gynecologic oncology
Furthermore, gynecologic oncologists draw a list of the commonest factors that can expose you to the risk of developing any reproductive cancer. These includes:
- Multiple sexual partners
- Poor immunity
- Family history
- Changes in the balance of female hormone
- Exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Skin Condition
Available Treatment Options for Gynecologic Oncology
Gynecologic oncologists work with Pathologists, Radiologists, and other health practitioners to carry out a comprehensive evaluation before diagnosis. However, patients with any form of reproductive cancer have access to treatment through chemotherapy and surgeries. These evaluations include;
- Pelvic examination
- Laboratory/imaging tests
Gynecologic oncology treatment with Surgery
Laparoscopic surgery – This is an alternative to hysterectomy and myomectomy. It does not involve the cutting of the uterine tissue. However, it is an effective technique. Women can go back to their normal daily activities within seven days of this procedure.
Robotic surgery – This gives high chances of precision and accuracy. In addition, it reduces the damage of surrounding tissues during the procedure.
Chemotherapy treatment for gynecologic oncology
Intraperitoneal chemotherapy – Certainly, this involves direct delivery of chemotherapy into the abdomen for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
Intraoperative Radiation therapy (IORT) – Consequently, radiation technique is an option to treat localized cancer cells that might have spread from their original site. In other words, a high dose of radiation is used on the cancer site directly during surgery.
In conclusion, a Gynecologic oncologist also recommends that supportive therapies can also help patient recovery. However, all women need to get routine checkups with their doctors as this will further give awareness on the status of their health and well-being.