Gynecologic cancer care in Denver
Sarah Cannon at Rose Medical Center provides extensive treatment options and care for women battling gynecologic cancers. A diagnosis of cervical cancer, uterine cancer, vulvar cancer or ovarian cancer can be scary, but our highly experienced, trained oncology team is here to care for you from diagnosis through survivorship. Our goal at Sarah Cannon at Rose Medical Center is to help you understand your diagnosis, disease and treatment options through education and support.
Our gynecologic cancer team includes specialized oncology nurse navigators who are here to help support your care and enhance the physician/patient relationship.
Find a cancer expert at Rose today, call (303) 320-7673.
Cervical cancer occurs when cancer cells appear in the cervix, the connection between the uterus and vagina. The two most common types of cervical cancers are squamous cell, occurs in the cells that line the cervix, and adenocarcinoma, occurs in the cells that make mucus and other fluids.
Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer
Similar to many other cancers, the earliest stages of cervical cancer may not produce any symptoms, which is why receiving screening tests as a part of your women’s care are so important. However, symptoms of cervical cancer may come in the form of:
- Abnormal bleeding, especially after intercourse
- Pain during intercourse
- Discharge that is watery or bloody, sometimes heavy and foul smelling
Risk factors for cervical cancer
- Early sexual activity
- Having sexually transmitted diseases
- Many sexual partners
Screening for cervical cancer
Because treatment is the most effective at an early stage, when the cancer is often not producing symptoms, screening tests are vital. Routine Pap tests should begin at 21 years old and should be repeated every few years. Additionally, an HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine is available for girls and women between nine to 26 years old, which may help reduce women’s risk for developing cervical cancer.
The vulva is the external portion of the female sex organs. While cancer in this area is rare, it can form as squamous cell carcinoma, which is found on the vaginal lips, or adenocarcinoma, which is found on the sides of vaginal opening.
Certain types of HPV cause about half of vulvar cancers, and vaccines that protect against infection of HPV may reduce women’s risk of this cancer.
Risk factors for vulvar cancer include
- History of precancerous conditions of the vulva
- Exposure to HPV
- History of skin conditions involving the vulva
- Weakened immune system
Signs and symptoms of vulvar cancer
- Lumps, bumps or open sores in the vulvar area
- Abnormal bleeding
- Changes to the skin
- Itching that won’t resolve
In the U.S., uterine cancer, also referred to as endometrial cancer, is the most common type of cancer affecting the female reproductive organs. Uterine cancer affects the endometrial lining of the uterus. Uterine cancer primarily affects postmenopausal women and an estimated 61,000 women are diagnosed each year.
The good news is through education, support and advanced treatment options, there are more than 600,000 survivors of uterine cancer. When you choose Sarah Cannon at Rose Medical Center, you know you are in the best hands because nearly triple the number of Stage 4 uterine cancer patients we see are alive five years after treatment when compared to other Colorado hospitals.
Risk factors for uterine cancer
- Poor diet and exercise habits
- Using things that affect hormones (estrogen supplements, birth control pills)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- More years of menstruation
- Never having been pregnant
- Family history of endometrial or colorectal cancer
Uterine cancer symptoms
Women may or may not experience symptoms of uterine cancer. Often, the symptoms a woman is experiencing may be caused by another condition. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, discuss them with your doctor:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, spotting or discharge; for women prior to menopause, this may present as an abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding
- Abnormal Pap results
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during urination or difficulty urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Treatment options for uterine cancer
The most common treatment for this highly curable cancer is the surgical removal of the uterus, also called a hysterectomy. At Rose, our doctors perform hysterectomies with minimally invasive robotic surgery, which offers many advantages over traditional surgery.
Ovarian cancer will affect an estimated 22,000 women in the U.S. this year. It has a history of being called the “silent killer,” as it often was not found until it spread beyond the reproductive organs. Thankfully, with modern education of the signs of ovarian cancer and new treatment options, ovarian cancer is generally being diagnosed and treated earlier, before it has spread.
Ovarian cancer risk factors
While the exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, most women with this disease do have one or more risk factors. If you believe that you are at risk for ovarian cancer, we encourage you to discuss your concerns with your primary care doctor if you align with any of the following risk factors:
- Having no children/pregnancies
- Fertility drug use
- Male hormone use
- Estrogen and hormone replacement therapy use
- Family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colorectal cancer
- Personal history of breast cancer
- Talcum powder use (on genitals)
- Smoking and alcohol use
Symptoms of ovarian cancer
The signs of ovarian cancer are often subtle. Risk factors considered in combination with any symptoms can help determine if additional testing may be required to rule out ovarian cancer. In addition to general, nonspecific abdominal pain or fullness, back pain or increasing abdominal size, symptoms include:
- Abdominal discomfort and/or pain
- Gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating or cramps
- Nausea, diarrhea, constipation or frequent urination
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling of fullness, even after only a light meal
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Abnormal bleeding from the vagina
If you are experiencing any of the above for a prolonged period of time, please contact your doctor.
About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute
Rose 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.