Gynecologic cancer treatment in Englewood, Colorado
Gynecologic oncology is a term used to identify cancers of the female reproductive organs. It includes cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and vulvar cancer. A diagnosis of a gynecologic cancer can be frightening and overwhelming for patients. That’s why at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Swedish Medical Center, our dedicated team of gynecologic oncologists in the Denver, Colorado area walks alongside you and helps you learn more about your diagnosis, treatment options and survivorship.
Through our physician experts, compassionate nurse navigators and experienced support staff, we provide education, support and exceptional treatments and follow-up care.
The connection between the uterus and vagina is called the cervix. Cancer can form in this area as either squamous cell (in the cells that line the cervix) and adenocarcinoma (in the cells that make mucus and other fluids).
Like many other cancers, cervical cancer does not often produce symptoms at its earliest and most treatable stage. That’s why screening tests are so important. However, if you have one or more of the following risk factors and are experiencing symptoms of cervical cancer, reach out to your gynecologist or primary care physician.
Cervical cancer risk factors
- Early sexual activity
- Having sexually transmitted diseases
- Having many sexual partners
Symptoms of cervical cancer
- Abnormal bleeding (especially after intercourse)
- Pain during intercourse
- Discharge that is watery or bloody—sometimes heavy and foul smelling
Cervical cancer screenings
Cervical cancer treatment is most effective at an early stage, before symptoms are present. Therefore, screening tests are very important. At 21 years old, we recommend women begin getting routine cervical cancer screenings, known as Pap tests or Pap smears. Additionally, girls and women ages 9 years old to 26 years old should receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which may help reduce women’s risk of developing gynecologic cancers.
In the past, ovarian cancer typically was not found before it spread outside the reproductive organs. However, with more education of ovarian cancer symptoms and better treatment options, this type of cancer is being diagnosed and treated earlier, before it has spread.
Like many other cancers, ovarian cancer does not often produce symptoms at its earliest and most treatable stage. If you have one or more of the following risk factors and are experiencing the symptoms of ovarian cancer, reach out to your gynecologist or primary care physician.
Ovarian cancer risk factors
- Having no children/pregnancies
- Fertility drug use
- Male hormones
- Estrogen and hormone replacement therapy use
- Family history of ovarian, breast or colorectal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Talcum powder use (on genitals)
- Smoking and alcohol use
Ovarian cancer symptoms
- Back pain or increasing abdominal size
- Abdominal discomfort and/or pain
- Feeling of fullness even after only a light meal
- Gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating or cramps
- Nausea, diarrhea, constipation or frequent urination
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Abnormal bleeding from the vagina
Uterine (endometrial) cancer care
Uterine (endometrial) cancer is the most common type of gynecologic cancer. The names uterine and endometrial cancer are used interchangeably because it affects the endometrial lining of the uterus. This cancer typically affects postmenopausal women, many of whom are proud survivors thanks to education, support and advancements in treatment options.
Like many other cancers, uterine cancer does not often produce symptoms at its earliest and most treatable stage. Reach out to your gynecologist or primary care physician if you have one or more of the following risk factors and are experiencing the symptoms of uterine cancer.
Uterine cancer risk factors
- Diet and exercise
- Using estrogen supplements or birth control pills
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- More years of menstruation
- Never been pregnant
- Family history of endometrial or colorectal cancers
Uterine cancer symptoms
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, spotting or discharge (premenopausal women may see abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding)
- Abnormal Pap test results
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during urination or difficulty urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Vulvar cancer is rare, but can form as squamous cell carcinoma on the vaginal lips or as adenocarcinoma on the sides of the vaginal opening. Variations of HPV cause 50% of vulvar cancers. A vaccine that protects against HPV infection may reduce the risk of developing vulvar cancer.
We recommend you schedule an appointment with your gynecologist or primary care physician if you have one or more of the risk factors and are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of vulvar cancer.
Vulvar cancer risk factors
- History of precancerous vulva conditions
- History of skin conditions involving the vulva
- Exposure to HPV
- Weakened immune system
Vulvar cancer symptoms
- Lumps, bumps or open sores in the vulvar area
- Abnormal bleeding
- Changes to the skin
- Itching that will not resolve
Robotic surgery for gynecologic cancer treatment
We pride ourselves on providing the most progressive treatments possible. Our gynecologic oncology cancer program uses a highly advanced surgical robot for appropriate cases.
Robotic surgery is designed to provide surgeons with enhanced capabilities, including high-definition 3D vision, a magnified view and better control. This advanced technology allows the doctors to perform complex procedures through just a few tiny openings, resulting in:
- Less pain
- Less risk of infection
- Less blood loss and transfusions
- Less scarring
- Faster recovery
- Quicker return to normal activities
Consult with your doctor to determine your eligibility for robotic surgery.
Interdisciplinary team of oncology experts
While advanced technology is critical to providing expert cancer treatment, so are individualized care conferences amongst our gynecologic oncology treatment team and nurse navigation. It is paramount to our hospital that each patient has a personalized treatment plan and is supported through every step of their cancer journey. We have a team of experts who meet weekly and care for you, from first diagnosis to survivorship and ongoing surveillance to help monitor your health.
A cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming. Swedish Medical Center’s patient navigator program aims to streamline patient care while providing a single point of contact for patient and family needs.
Our specially trained oncology nurse navigators can help you access services during treatment and recovery. Methods of recovery may include integrative health services, like acupuncture and massage, or care focused on relieving symptoms, pain, stress and suffering, which is provided alongside medical treatment.
Our navigators develop medical survivorship plans for each patient. Each plan includes the recommended available resources, remission instructions, warning symptoms, follow-up appointments, screening schedules and treatment dates for each patient’s journey through survivorship.
Our Cancer Resource Center offers information and assistance to patients and their loved ones. Any patient can call the Cancer Resource Center at (303) 788-2627 to speak with our nurses, dietitians and volunteers about available resources, scheduling an appointment and support services for cancer patients, such as our free support groups and educational classes that are held regularly.
About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute
Swedish Medical Center is part of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare. Our family of hospitals provides comprehensive cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for people facing cancer in our communities. From diagnosis, to treatment and survivorship care, our oncology expertise ensures you have access to locally-trusted care with the support of a globally-recognized network.
Have cancer questions? We can help. askSARAH is a dedicated helpline for your cancer-related questions. Our specially-trained nurses are available 24/7 and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at (303) 253-3225 or chat online at askSARAHnow.com.