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Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute

Gynecologic Cancer

Surgery for Gynecologic Cancers

Surgery for women with reproductive cancers has undergone major changes in recent years. Many early-stage gynecological cancers may be treated with surgery alone. Our gynecologic oncology surgeons use the latest techniques that offer advantages like faster healing, better outcomes, and shorter follow-up therapy.

For many cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancers we offer minimally invasive da Vinci® robotic-assisted surgery at Women & Babies Hospital. Surgical options will depend on the type of cancer and whether it has spread. Our experienced surgeons will answer your questions and help you make an informed decision about any necessary surgical treatment. 

Dr. George Olt and Dr. Caitlin Stashwick collaborate with other surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists to develop an individualized plan of care for each gynecologic cancer patient.

Surgery for ovarian, uterine and endometrial cancer

Treatment plans for women with advanced ovarian and endometrial cancers often include surgery. For large tumors, surgeons perform debulking, also known as cytoreduction, to reduce tumor size to less than 1 centimeter, or less than a half inch. This procedure increases survival rates by up to 25 percent. The surgeon may remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes and/or the uterus to remove all or most of the tumor.

Women with less advanced cancers of the reproductive tract may benefit from minimally invasive surgical procedures, such as da Vinci® robotic-assisted surgery, which results in a smaller incision, shorter hospital stay, and quicker recovery.

Our gynecologic oncology surgeons perform:

  • Hysterectomy—surgical removal of the uterus and cervix.
  • Salpingo-oophorectomy—surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes
  • Lymph node dissection—surgical removal of pelvic lymph nodes in the groin and periaortic lymph nodes in the abdomen

Any of these procedures may be performed in an open fashion or using minimally invasive laparoscopy, depending on the extent of the cancer.

Options for cervical or vaginal cancer

If a Pap test shows cancerous cells or pre-cancerous changes to the cervix, surgery may be necessary to destroy or remove the abnormal cells. Depending on the extent of the cancer, surgical approaches may include:

  • Partial or radical hysterectomy—surgical removal of the uterus.
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP)—removal of abnormal cells using an electrical wire loop.
  • Partial vaginectomy—removal of a portion of the vagina.
  • Excision—removal of the cancer cells and a margin of tissue around the cancer.

Treatment for vulvar cancer

Surgical options for vulvar cancer depend on the extent of the cancer:

  • Laser surgery— destroyd abnormal cells for precancerous, or premalignant, conditions using a powerful beam of light
  • Excision—removal of the cancer cells and a margin of tissue around the cancer.
  • Vulvectomy—surgical removal of all or part of the tissues of the vulva.

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