Gynecologic cancer

Overview

If you have a gynecologic cancer, your outcomes will be better if you are treated by a gynecologic oncologist right from the beginning.

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) has more gynecologic oncologists than any other medical center or clinic in the Pacific Northwest. We treat all types of gynecologic cancer, including cervical, endometrial, ovarian, and vulvar cancers, uterine sarcoma and gestational trophoblastic disease.

Where you're treated first matters most

The most important decision a person with cancer will make is deciding where to get treated. Studies have shown that patients who begin their treatment at a top regional cancer center, like SCCA, have better outcomes than those who start their treatment elsewhere. And here’s why:

  • Expert care: SCCA doctors treat only cancer and specialize in specific cancer types, such as gynecologic cancer. They have a deep understanding of their specialty since they diagnose and treat thousands of cancer cases every year. This experience builds their expertise that makes better outcomes possible.
  • Newest treatments: Doctors at SCCA have access to all the latest developments and research in treating cancer. Your care comes from combined expertise of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine, and Seattle Children's. Newsweek ran an article that explores the difference between getting treated at a top cancer center and a local community hospital. The disparity in outcomes, in many cases, can be quite striking. Read the article here.

When your treatment is complete, we'll keep close watch on your health through our Women’s Wellness Clinic  where we provide wellness-focused follow-up care  focused on cancer treatment recovery.

Every gynecologic cancer patient at SCCA has a personal health-care team that includes a gynecologic oncologist, surgery staff, nurse case managers and a radiation oncologist, if needed.

Before your first visit, the team will have reviewed your pathology slides (tissue samples from any biopsies) and any scans or tests you have already had. If you do not live in or near Seattle, we may ask your referring doctor to arrange for additional tests or scans so that these results are available before your appointment.

Your first visit

On your first visit you will meet with your oncologist, who will ask you questions about your medical history and your current problem. This will be followed by a physical exam, including a pelvic exam.

Then you will sit down for a conference with your doctor and other members of your team to discuss a treatment plan. This visit usually lasts two to three hours. We recommend that you bring a friend or family member with you to your appointment.

Four out of five of our patients require surgery, and many require additional treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, or sometimes both. If you are an out-of-town patient, it may be possible for you to have your surgery in Seattle, but have chemotherapy or radiation treatments closer to home.
 
Surgery for SCCA gynecologic patients is performed at University of Washington Medical Center. Outpatient chemotherapy and radiation treatments may be done at either the SCCA clinic or UW Medical Center.

Where you will be seen

There are several clinics within SCCA and its parent organizations where you might be seen, depending on your diagnosis or suspected diagnosis.

Women who call SCCA for a routine gynecologic exam without an increased risk of cancer or a cancer diagnosis will be referred to the Women's Health Care Center at UWMC-Roosevelt or to the Women's Clinic at Harborview Medical Center. These clinics are part of UW Medicine. Both clinics treat women with pre-cancerous conditions such as dysplasia and perform procedures such as cryosurgery or LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure).

Treatment

Today, women facing gynecological cancer have better treatment options than they did even a few years ago. If detected in the precancerous stage, some cancers can often be halted with a simple procedure.

Providers

At SCCA, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a team coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.

Clinical trials

SCCA was formed, in part, to bring promising new treatments to patients faster. For gynecologic cancer patients, this means more treatment options at SCCA than you might find elsewhere, including the chance to participate in one of many ongoing clinical trials conducted at SCCA and its partner organizations, Fred Hutch and UW Medicine.

Prevention

The Breast & Ovarian Cancer Prevention Program (BOCPP) at SCCA is for women with a very strong risk for breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

At this clinic, we provide a personalized approach to cancer risk assessment, prevention, and screening, including an evaluation and a discussion of your individual breast and ovarian cancer risk.