Gynecologic oncology

The Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center (WVCI) is pleased to announce our partnership with the physicians of Northwest Gynecologic Oncology.

Gynecologic oncology cancer types

Cervical Cancer: Each year in the United States, more than 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. To reduce this number, researchers continue to explore new approaches to cervical cancer prevention. One very important advance in this area is the development of vaccines against two high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV); widespread use of these vaccines could prevent an estimated 70% of all cases of cervical cancer.

Uterine / Endometrial Cancer: Each year in the United States, approximately 40,000 women are diagnosed with uterine cancer (also known as endometrial cancer). It is estimated that there are more than 572,000 uterine cancer survivors in the U.S. today.

Ovarian Cancer: Each year in the United States, more than 21,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Because ovarian cancer is often detected at an advanced stage when it is difficult to treat, researchers continue to explore new approaches to prevention and early detection.

Robotic surgery

Women who have been diagnosed with early cervical or endometrial cancer may be candidates for surgical treatment by our gynecologic oncologists using technological advances such as robotics.

The latest addition to the world of GYN surgery is the da Vinci surgical robot. Use of the da Vinci robotic surgical system for hysterectomy received FDA approval in 2005. Using the da Vinci robot for laparoscopic assisted hysterectomy is often recommended for women with an especially complicated anticipated surgery including possible need for removal of pelvic and aortic lymph nodes.

Laparoscopic hysterectomy involves making several very small incisions in the abdomen. A laparoscope is then inserted through one incision to guide the surgeon. Instruments inserted into the other incisions are used to perform surgical tasks. The laparoscope may be used as part of a vaginal hysterectomy, or the entire surgery may be done laparoscopically with or without the assistance of the da Vinci robotic equipment.

Candidates for this type of hysterectomy include women with early cervical cancer that has not spread beyond the cervix. This is a relatively rare form of cancer. More commonly, women with early endometrial cancer are also candidates. This type of cancer arises in 4% of women and often occurs in relationship with obesity.

The majority of patients undergoing laparoscopic and/or robotic assisted hysterectomy are discharged from the hospital the day after surgery. Nearly all patients can return to non-strenuous normal activities within one week and return to work in two to three weeks compared with the estimated six to eight weeks of recovery anticipated with a laparotomy.

Special care for oncology patients

According to accumulated data reported in the 2008 State of the State of Gynecologic Cancers: Sixth Annual Report to the Women of America, women diagnosed with a reproductive cancer, especially ovarian and uterine (endometrial) cancers, experience improved outcomes when treated first by a gynecologic oncologist. These specialists are more likely to perform radical procedures during surgery, resulting in a lower volume of residual disease. Endometrial cancer patients also have better outcomes when their initial surgery is performed by a gynecologic oncologist as gynecologic oncologists are more likely to perform complete surgical staging that includes removal of lymph nodes from the pelvis and aortic regions. Of the women with stage I (disease confined to the uterus) endometrial cancer, more than half will not need additional treatment after surgery. However, based on risk factors, some are recommended to receive additional therapies such as chemotherapy or radiation to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.