Gynecologic cancers affect female reproductive organs and require specialized care. The Cancer Network of West Michigan is putting these services within reach, right in our community.
We are one of the only programs in the region whose team includes gynecologic cancer doctors (gynecologic oncologists). You also benefit from the combined expertise of cancer specialists from Mercy Health and University of Michigan Health-West. These capabilities are giving more women hope for healing.
What Is Gynecologic Cancer?
Gynecologic cancer includes many diseases of the female reproductive organs and occurs when abnormal cells multiply in a woman’s:
- Uterus, as well as the endometrium or inner lining of the uterus
- Cervix, the lower part of the uterus
- Ovaries, glands that produce hormones as well as eggs
- Vagina, muscular canal connecting the cervix to an external opening
- Vulva, external genitalia
Gynecologic Cancer Treatment Through the Cancer Network: Why Choose Us?
You benefit from the combined expertise of organizations with reputations for exceptional cancer services. Mercy Health and University of Michigan Health-West have been serving our community since the 1980s. Working alongside University of Michigan Health Rogel Cancer Center, one of the nation’s top programs, we now deliver the region’s highest level of cancer care.
The symptoms you experience depend on what area the cancer is affecting. Common gynecologic cancer symptoms include:
- Abdominal or back pain
- Abnormal bleeding or discharge
- Burning sensation in the vulva
- Difficulty urinating
- Skin changes, such as rashes or nonhealing sores affecting the vulva
- Unexpected weight loss
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse
Gynecologic oncology specialists use a variety of diagnostic tests, including:
- Pelvic exam: We examine your internal reproductive organs by inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the vagina. Doctors check organ positioning and for abnormal growths or swelling.
- Pap test: This test can identify cervical cancer or precancerous changes in cells of the cervix. We use a tiny brush to remove cells from your cervix.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) test: HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection. Some types of HPV can cause cervical cancer, certain head and neck cancers and other gynecologic cancers. If you test positive for HPV, we conduct additional testing to find out more.
- Biopsy: Doctors take a tissue sample and examine it under a microscope. This test helps us confirm or rule out cancer.
- Imaging: We may use a CT scan or ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves, to produce images of your pelvic organs. If cancer is present, these tests pinpoint where it is and help us plan therapies.
- Blood test: Doctors test a sample of your blood for CA-125. This protein is sometimes present in endometrial and cervical cancer.
Our certifed gynecologic oncologists are trained in both medical and surgical oncology and work closely with radiation oncologists and other specialists to develop your treatment plan, so you can start healing sooner.
Gynecologic cancer therapies may include:
- Preventive treatments: If you have a strong family history or a genetic mutation that increases your risk for gynecologic cancer, we can discuss options for reducing your cancer risk. For some people, this may include preventative surgery to remove the ovaries or uterus.
- Cancer surgery: We tailor our surgical approach to your diagnosis to provide the highest quality of care. Some patients may be candidates for minimally invasive techniques.
- Chemotherapy and other medical oncology: These treatments include traditional chemotherapy as well as personalized therapies including immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Depending on your treatment plan, you may receive treatment in different settings - in our peaceful and comfortable infusion suites, in the hospital, or at home.
- Radiation therapy: We use radiation to deliver focused treatments that destroy cancer cells’ ability to multiply. We offer many options including brachytherapy. This method delivers radiation inside the body, so you experience fewer side effects.
Cancer Network services are available at several locations across West Michigan. Each facility represents the full strength, compassion and expertise we have to offer. Our integrated approach makes it easier to receive care where you’re most comfortable — near home and loved ones.