Gynecologic cancer

Treatment

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

Each individual's cancer is different. Your Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) care team will partner with you to find the treatment options that best align with your circumstances, preferences and beliefs. 

Comprehensive treatment options

You will hear the word "biopsy" during the early stages of your diagnosis and treatment. Tissue samples from your cancer will be removed either in the clinic or during surgery and examined by a pathologist. SCCA has a dedicated pathologist who only works with patients who are receiving treatment for gynecologic cancer.

The examination of these tissues will show whether your cancer is likely to grow slowly or quickly, whether it is likely to respond to certain types of treatment, and whether it is likely to recur. The treatment your care team recommends will depend on the stage of your cancer as determined by your biopsy.

Most of the people who come to us for gynecologic cancer care will be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, or some combination of these treatment options if their cancer has spread.

Your care team may also recommend that you consider participating in a clinical trial.

Dr. Barbara Goff discusses advanced gynecologic cancer therapies at SCCA.

Your first visit

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

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

After the appointment with your oncologist you will participate in a conference with your oncologist and other members of your care team to discuss a treatment plan. This portion of the visit usually lasts two to three hours. 

We recommend that you bring a friend or family member with you to your appointments.

Where you will be seen

There are several clinics within SCCA and its partner organization UW Medicine where you might be seen, depending on your diagnosis or suspected diagnosis.

Four out of five of our patients require surgery, and many require additional treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation. Surgery for patients who are being treated for gynecologic cancer at SCCA takes place at University of Washington Medical Center. 

Outpatient chemotherapy and radiation treatments may be done at either the SCCA clinic or UW Medical Center. If you are an out-of-town patient, it may be possible for you to have your surgery in Seattle but have your chemotherapy or radiation treatments closer to home.

Routine gynecologic exams without an increased risk of cancer or a cancer diagnosis are referred to the Women's Health Care Center at UW Medical Center–Roosevelt or the Women's Clinic at Harborview Medical Center. These clinics are part of UW Medicine and treat individuals with precancerous conditions such as dysplasia and perform procedures such as cryosurgery and loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).