Gynecologic Oncology is a branch of medical science which studies both benign and malignant tumors (cancers) of the female reproductive system. Gynecologic oncology is engaged in the prevention, diagnostics, clinical study and treatment of oncological diseases of female genital organs.
Gynaecologists, specialising in oncology, concentrating mainly on the following:
- Preventive measures in patients who are at risk.
- Initial diagnosis is able to identify precancerous and cancerous transformation and establish a diagnosis in the early stages.
- Integrated and combined treatment of cancer formations, including a set of measures that promote patient’s recovery.
Main cancers of the female reproductive system:
- Endometrial cancer – malignant cells formation, which are formed from the uterus’s endometrium. Cancer of the uterus occurs quite frequently, but has positive prognosis due to the fact, that it is often diagnosed at an early stage.
- Сervical cancer – a malignancy, emerging from the cells covering the cervix.
- Cancer of the uterus body (corpus uteri) – this is the most common cancer of the pelvic area in women. Cancer cells are formed in the body of the uterus.
- Vaginal tumor – cancers which are located on the vagina.
- Cancer of the vulva – formation of cancerous malignant cells on the epithelial tissue. Cancer cells are formed from the external genitalia: small and large labia, the clitoris.
- Cancer of the ovaries – tumor malignancies, which are generated from the cells of the ovaries.
Causes of gynecologic oncology cancers
There are many factors that contribute to the formation of cancers in female reproductive system:
- Ionizing and ultraviolet radiation
- Genetics. History of similar cancers in the family
- Exposure to chemical carcinogens.
- Viral and bacterial infections, including human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Damage to the internal organs due to previous trauma or a surgery.
- Hormonal imbalances
Clinical manifestations depend on the location of the tumor, cancer’s stage, and some other individual characteristics. Most common manifestations of gynaecological oncology can be summarised as follows:
- Tumor growth in the genitals area.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the groin.
- Discomfort and pain during intercourse.
- Persistent and sharp pain in the lower abdomen.
- Fatigue and apathy.
- Vaginal discharges with pus and blood
For the diagnosis of female genital cancers many advanced techniques are being used, including:
- Cytology is used to determine the presence of cancer cells on the surface of an organ. The analysis is performed using a swab.
- Imaging – ultrasound, CT, MRI, X-Ray
- Endoscopic techniques, such as hysteroscopy and laparoscopy, allow visualisation of the reproductive organs.
- Cervical hysteroscopy.
- Extended cervical hysteroscopy with liquid cytology.
- Biopsies are carried out to allow thorough examination of tissues in a lab, establish the diagnosis and choose the appropriate treatment plan.
- Tumor markers.
Gynaecologic Oncology Treatment
Chemotherapy affects the cancer cells, stopping their growth and preventing a relapse. This method of treatment most often used as an auxiliary. It can be combined with radiation therapy and surgery. In addition, in the last stages of cancer chemotherapy allows to relieve the pain and improve the patient’s condition. Today, there are many chemotherapy agents that can effectively deal with cancers, causing minimum side effects.
Surgery is a common and most effective method of treating cancers. Partial or complete resection of the affected organ can be applied, the decision is made by the treating physician, depending on the disease’s stage and patient’s condition. Surgery can be laparoscopic, endoscopic or open.
Radiotherapy – a common method of treating cancers of female reproductive system. Depending on the diagnosis, it can be conducted by means of external radiation, brachytherapy or radiosurgery. Radiotherapy helps slow down the growth of cancer formation and division of malignant cells. This type of treatment is often given after surgery to prevent relapses and destroy metastases, which might have remained in the patient’s body.
Immunotherapy – an effective method of treatment in gynecological oncology. Immunotherapy aims to stimulate and strengthen patient’s immune system, so it can better fight cancer cells and also endure the side effects of other methods of treatment.