When you come to the WVU Cancer Institute for gynecologic cancer treatment, you’ll find a comforting and warm environment, along with the latest advances available to patients nation-wide.
We create a treatment plan designed for your specific needs, and talk with you about your needs and goals regarding your health, family planning, and life beyond cancer. We understand how cancer affects all aspects of your life.
Our holistic diagnosis and treatment approach gives you access to the latest innovations in surgery, medicine, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy. We treat women for all types of gynecologic diseases, including cancers of the ovaries, uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, vulva, and vagina. We also treat women without cancer who are in need of complex surgical care.
Our goal is to help lower the number of women diagnosed with cancer each year by promoting early detection through advanced screening and human papillomavirus (HPV) immunizations for eligible patients up to age 45.
Types of Gynecologic Cancers We Treat
We specialize in the evaluation and treatment of cancerous and noncancerous tumors affecting women’s reproductive organs. Our team includes specialists from many areas, all with expertise in women’s health. The team consists of gynecologic oncologists, radiation oncologists, specialty trained nurses, advanced practice providers, pathologists, and supportive care specialists.
We treat all types of gynecologic cancers, including:
Cervical cancer can be found early through regular screening tests. It starts in the cells lining your cervix and develops most often in women over age 30. Although HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer, it’s not the only cause.
Ovarian and fallopian cancer
Ovarian cancer predominately starts in the ovaries, but it can also be found to arise from the fallopian tubes or the peritoneum (tissue lining covering the organs in your abdomen).
There are two different types of uterine cancer — uterine sarcomas and endometrial cancer. Uterine cancer starts in the uterus.
This type of cancer is found in the vagina. It’s very rare and is more often found in women over age 60.
This rare type of cancer is mostly diagnosed in older women and is cancer found on the outer surface area of female genitals, the vulva. Vulvar cancer usually starts as a lump or sore on the vulva that often causes itching.
Diagnosing Gynecologic Cancer
There are different ways to diagnose gynecologic cancer, and it’s important for you to talk with your doctor if you notice any new symptoms such as pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding or discharge, pain in the back or stomach, or itching or burning in the vulva. If your doctor suspects you have cancer, they may order certain tests to make a diagnosis.
- Advanced imaging — Doctors use ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans to detect signs of disease and see whether cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes.
- Biopsy — Doctors use this test to examine tissue under a microscope to determine whether cancer is present. During a biopsy, a doctor removes a small sample of tissue at the tumor site to analyze in a lab. Biopsy results help oncologists plan the best treatment for you. There are several different biopsy types, including image-guided biopsy, fine-needle aspiration biopsy, core needle biopsy, and excisional and endoscopic biopsy.
- Pap test — Doctors remove cells from your cervix to view under a microscope. The test looks for cancerous or abnormal cells that may progress to cancer without treatment.
- Transvaginal ultrasound — Doctors perform this ultrasound through the vagina. Using an ultrasound probe, a doctor will insert the probe about two or three inches into your vaginal canal to take images.
Treatment for Gynecologic Cancer
From your first visit, our team works with you to address your specific condition and needs.
Your care plan may include:
- Infusion therapy — Our doctors give medicine and fluids through a catheter into your bloodstream. Medicines may include antibiotics, chemotherapy, and fluids to build nutrients.
- Systemic treatment — Systemic treatment includes chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and hormone therapy. Our doctors use the latest in anti-cancer medicine to destroy cancer cells. We also use medicines to slow cancer growth and shrink tumors before surgery. Sometimes, we use medication alongside other treatments such as radiation or after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that might remain. In addition to these standard treatments, we also offer patients access to some of the latest clinical trials available to women with gynecologic cancer.
- Radiation — We use radiotherapy treatments to target, destroy, and shrink many types of cancers. The treatments use a linear accelerator to produce precise, high-energy rays that target the exact area of cancer and spare healthy cells. Radiation oncology includes 3D conformal radiotherapy, image-guided radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), and brachytherapy. The WVU Cancer Institute is the first in the state to offer IORT and is the only treatment center within two hours of Morgantown.
- Surgery — Surgery may help us diagnose, stage, and treat many tumors. We also use it to relieve symptoms caused by tumors that press on a nerve or bone. Surgical options for gynecologic cancer include advanced robot-assisted surgery, laparoscopy, and single-incision laparoscopic surgery for the uterus, cervix, and ovary cancers. We also treat women without cancer who need complex surgical care.
Resources for Gynecologic Cancer
We believe cancer care goes beyond diagnosis and treatment. Many resources are available to answer questions and connect you with others, including: