MultiCare is proud to offer expertise in gynecologic oncology. We treat cancers that affect a woman’s reproductive system, such as ovarian, endometrial and cervical cancers.
Learn more about why to choose gynecologic oncology at MultiCare.
Cervical cancer is the rapid growth of abnormal cells on the cervix. Fortunately, when detected at an early stage, cervical cancer is highly curable. Regular pap tests are the most important tool for preventing cervical cancer because it can detect abnormal cell changes before they become cancerous.
Most cervical cancer is caused by a virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. You can get HPV by having sexual contact with someone who has it. There are many types of the HPV virus and not all types cause cervical cancer. Some of them cause genital warts, but other types may not cause any symptoms.
You can have HPV for years and not know it. It stays in your body and can lead to cervical cancer years after you were infected. This is why it is important for you to have regular Pap tests.
Abnormal cervical cell changes rarely cause symptoms. But you may have symptoms if those cell changes grow into cervical cancer. Symptoms of cervical cancer may include:
Cervical Cancer Diagnosis
During a Pap test the doctor scrapes a small sample of cells from the surface of the cervix to look for cell changes. If a Pap test shows abnormal cell changes, your doctor may do other tests to look for precancerous or cancer cells on your cervix.
Tests to confirm a diagnosis of cervical cancer include:
Tests to determine the extent (stage) of cervical cancer include:
Ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in one or both of your ovaries. Ovarian cancer is often cured when it is caught early. But often, it has already spread by the time it is found. This particular gynecological cancer is relatively rare; fewer than 22,000 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010.
Experts do not know exactly what causes ovarian cancer. But they do know that DNA changes play a role in many cancers.
You have a higher chance of developing ovarian cancer if you:
The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
If you have one or more of these symptoms, and it occurs almost daily for more than two or three weeks, talk with your doctor.
These symptoms are common for some women, and they may not mean that you have ovarian cancer. But the early symptoms of ovarian cancer follow a specific pattern:
There are no reliable screening tests for ovarian cancer.
Some initial exams and tests are done before surgery if ovarian cancer is suspected. These tests include:
More tests may be done before surgery to determine if other areas of the body are involved. These tests include:
Uterine cancer is the rapid and uncontrolled growth of cells in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. It usually occurs in women older than 50. The good news is that it is usually cured when it is found early. And most of the time, the cancer is found in its earliest stage, before it has spread outside the uterus.
The most common cause of uterine cancer is having too much of the hormone estrogen compared to the hormone progesterone in the body. This hormone imbalance causes the lining of the uterus to get thicker and thicker. If the lining builds up and stays that way, then cancer cells can start to grow.
Women who have this hormone imbalance over time may be more likely to get endometrial cancer after age 50. This hormone imbalance can happen if a woman:
The most common symptoms of uterine cancer include:
Most cases of uterine cancer are diagnosed in an early stage, when women who have reached menopause go to their doctors when they have vaginal bleeding. Your doctor will conduct a pelvic exam and Pap test to check your symptoms.
An endometrial biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of endometrial cancer. A biopsy removes a small sample of the lining of the uterus (endometrium) for examination under a microscope.
Additional tests may include:
After diagnosis and staging of your gynecological cancer, you and your doctor will work together to determine the best cancer treatment options for you.
You will also meet with a nurse navigator to help guide you through the process and to answer any questions you have. They are a crucial part of your MultiCare Regional Cancer Center team; your point guard, in essence. They can connect you with financial information, education and resources as well as provide emotional support on your healing journey.
MultiCare is the first health care system in Pierce County to offer robotic-assisted surgery using the da VinciÂ® Surgical System. This breakthrough technology enables surgeons to operate with greater precision and control, while making smaller incisions. This minimizes the pain and risk associated with traditional surgeries, offers excellent success rates and an easier, faster recovery.
Radiation therapy is often the most effective treatment for gynecological cancers at any stage of development. A leader in providing the most advanced gynecological cancer treatments and therapies available, MultiCare Regional Cancer Center offers intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) an external radiation therapy that more precisely targets a cancerous tumor while sparing the healthy surrounding tissue.
MultiCare Regional Cancer Center also provides internal radiation treatment called brachytherapy. In brachytherapy, radiation is directed into the vagina and uterus. This treatment can be given in the outpatient setting.
Chemotherapy drugs are designed to work by interfering with the rapidly dividing cancer cells in your body. Your doctors may suggest chemotherapy as form of gynecological cancer treatment before or after surgery. Chemotherapy is usually administered intravenously (through the vein) or orally in the form of pills. Your doctor may recommend additional medications to help alleviate chemotherapy-related side effects.
In addition to the therapies described above, we offer integrative therapies such as nutritional therapy, physical therapy, yoga, massage and emotional counseling. Many of these therapies are remarkably effective in addressing the side effects of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation by easing tension, reducing pain and improving quality of life.
During and after your treatment for cervical, ovarian or uterine cancer, there are things you can do at home to help manage the side effects.