Women's Cancer Care of Seattle

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a gynecologic oncologist?

An obstetrician/gynecologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of women with cancer of the reproductive organs.

What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?

Testing positive for certain HPV virus types is the largest risk factor for developing cervical cancer. Multiple sexual partners in your lifetime (more than five), intercourse at an early age and smoking are also contributors.

How is cancer of the cervix treated?

If a woman has cervical cancer, surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation may be needed to fight the cancer. The best treatment for an individual woman will vary, depending on her health history, the stage of the disease and issues related to childbearing. Several treatment techniques are available. The lesion frequently can be easily targeted with a surgical instrument called a colposcope. Also, the abnormal tissue can be removed with a specialized electrode or vaporized with a laser, depending on the situation. Treatment can be customized after discussion with your surgeon.

What is a cervical cone biopsy?

For some women, a deeper, cone-shaped piece of tissue must be removed from the cervix in order to make a correct diagnosis or to treat cervical cancer. Research done by Women's Cancer Care of Seattle shows that early cervical cancer can be treated with this surgical technique, while preserving fertility.

What kinds of treatment are available for endometrial cancer?

Most often, surgery is recommended to remove the uterus, the ovaries and the fallopian tubes. Sometimes, lymph nodes are removed at the time of the surgery. In addition, radiation, chemotherapy and possibly hormone treatment may be utilized.

What is the treatment for ovarian cancer?

Surgery is always required, often followed by chemotherapy. Research into the best way to administer chemotherapy is rapidly evolving, so devising the best course of treatment is done in consultation with a gynecologic oncologist.

What treatments are available for vulvar cancer?

A colposcopy should be performed of the external and internal genitalia, to identify all areas involved in either pre-cancerous changes or invasive cancer. Smaller cancers are then surgically removed, along with the lymph nodes in the groin. Larger cancers require treatment with radiation and chemotherapy.

What are the risk factors for vaginal cancer?

The most likely association is a history of HPV (human papilloma virus), usually in the form of genital warts. There is also probably an association with multiple sex partners and smoking, especially in women under 65 years old. The most important risk factor is a previous diagnosis with cervical dysplasia or cancer. Doctors caring for women with a history of cervical dysplasia or cancer need to obtain regular Pap smears from the vaginal canal.