Gynecological Cancer

Gynecologic cancer affects a woman’s reproductive organs, including the cervix, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina and vulva. Inspira’s skilled gynecologic oncologists are specially trained to diagnose and treat a range of cancers affecting these organs and surrounding tissues. Additionally, they are available to consult with women who have certain non-cancerous conditions in these organs or who are at high risk for developing a gynecological cancer. Below is more information on gynecological cancers treated by Inspira Health cancer specialists including:
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Endometrial and Uterine Cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar cancer

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer occurs when cancerous cells grow and multiply in the lining of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. One of the most common causes of this type of cancer is the human papillomavirus, or HPV. If detected early, cervical cancer can be successfully treated. The best way to prevent and/or detect cervical cancer is to have your gynecologist routinely screen for abnormalities by conducting a Pap test.

Understanding the early signs and symptoms will also help ensure effective treatment. Although women with early cervical cancers and pre-cancers often don’t have symptoms, it’s important to understand the most common ones, which include:
  • Irregular bleeding, such as spotting between or following periods
  • Menstrual bleeding that is longer or heavier than normal
  • Persistent pelvic or back pain
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Pain during intercourse

Endometrial and Uterine Cancer

Endometrial cancer starts in the lining of the uterus (endometrium). You may hear this type of cancer referred to as uterine cancer, though they are not quite the same thing: Endometrial cancer develops in the uterine lining, whereas uterine sarcoma forms in the uterine muscle.

If you experience the symptoms below, your doctor may wish to conduct an endometrial or uterine biopsy to determine whether cancerous cells are present:
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Painful urination
  • An enlarged uterus, which your physician can detect during an exam
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Unexplained weight loss

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer typically begins in the ovaries, but recent research suggests it can actually develop in other reproductive organs such as the fallopian tubes. The ovaries, which produce eggs (ova) for reproduction, are composed of three kinds of cells, each of which can grow into a different type of tumor:
  • Epithelial tumors, which form in the cells covering the surface of the ovary, are the most common form of ovarian tumors.
  • Germ cell tumors, which begin in the cells that produce eggs.
  • Stromal tumors, which start from structural tissue cells that comprise the ovary and hold it together. These cells also produce the female hormones progesterone and estrogen.

Although most of them are considered benign, ovarian cysts—fluid-filled lumps found in the ovaries—occur naturally as part of the ovulation process and can be confused with a tumor. Your doctor will monitor any cysts you may develop and treat them accordingly.

Most symptoms of ovarian cancer will not be present until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms include:
  • Pelvic, back or abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite or an inability to feel full after eating
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Constipation
  • Pain during intercourse

If your doctor suspects you may have ovarian cancer, they will administer a number of tests including but not limited to a chest X-ray, PET scan, colonoscopy and laparoscopy. When surgery is needed, Inspira offers expertise in minimally invasive procedures including robotic surgery including robotic oophorectomy (removal of one or both ovaries).

Vaginal cancer

Vaginal cancer begins in the vagina. Squamous cell carcinoma, the most prevalent type of vaginal cancer, develops in the lining of the vagina. Adenocarcinoma, which accounts for one in 10 cases of vaginal cancer, can occur both in older and younger women. Clear cell adenocarcinoma is more common in young women who were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) in utero.

When vaginal cancer is forming and is only in the cells lining the vagina, it may not cause discernible symptoms. Invasive vaginal cancer tends to be larger and spreads easily into nearby tissues and deeper into the wall of the vagina. In addition to symptoms of other gynecologic cancers, such as pelvic pain, trouble urinating and abnormal bleeding, you may also be able to feel a mass or lump in the vagina.

Vulvar cancer

Vulvar cancer starts in the vulva, the outer part of the female genitals. Most cancers of the vulva are squamous cell carcinomas. This type of cancer forms in the squamous cells, the main type of skin cells. Adenocarcinomas, melanomas, sarcomas and basal cell carcinoma can all affect and/or spread to the vulva.

Depending on which type of vulvar cancer you have, you will likely experience a range of different symptoms—or no symptoms at all. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:
  • A lump or small bump of varying color, including white, pink or red
  • Thickening of the skin of the vulva
  • Pain, burning or itching
  • An open sore

Treatment

Depending on the type and stage of your gynecologic cancer, your oncologist may recommend using medications to treat it. Chemotherapy, immunotherapy and hormone therapy are all common medication-based treatments.

Surgery is often used to treat cancerous lumps and tissue and can be very effective in removing your cancer. Whenever possible, your Inspira physician will operate using minimally invasive surgery techniques to reduce any pain or discomfort. This may include robotic assisted surgery for endometrial, cervical and ovarian cancer.

If you’d like more information about your or a loved one’s cancer care, or to receive a second opinion about a diagnosis, call 1-800-INSPIRA.

Why Choose Inspira?

Advanced Technology Meets Compassionate Support

We combine cutting-edge medical technology with a human touch, allowing us to provide expert care. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained oncology physicians are well-versed in the latest cancer treatments and are equipped with advanced technologies that can increase your chances for a successful recovery. We also understand that navigating the ups and downs of life with cancer can be overwhelming, which is why we provide a built-in support system of social workers, counselors, navigators, registered dietitians and behavioral health specialists so you and your family don’t have to walk the path to recovery alone.

A Comprehensive Approach to Cancer Care

Inspira’s oncology physicians take a multi-faceted approach to detecting, diagnosing and treating cancer by looking at your condition from a holistic perspective. Whether you’re just beginning treatment or are a cancer-free survivor, we take everything—genetics, lifestyle habits and other risk factors—into account when designing your care plan. By treating the whole person rather than just the disease itself, we’re able to offer a more targeted, personalized experience.

Access to Clinical Trials

Inspira participates in clinical trials to explore new ways to prevent, detect or treat cancer. Clinical trials can also focus on other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with cancer. Participants help others and may also benefit from receiving the newest treatment along with additional care and attention from the clinical trial staff.

Cancer Services Close to Home

Residents of South Jersey need not travel far to get the best in cancer care—with multiple facilities in the region, Inspira delivers a full breadth of cancer services close to where you live. When you’re not distracted by a long commute to your medical provider, you have more energy to focus on what’s important: healing and getting your life back.


Anatomy of Female Pelvic Area