Press Release: Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer Patients Experience Improved Outcomes When Treated First by a Gynecologic Oncologist

Chicago (September 24, 2008)—For the first time, accumulated data demonstrates that women diagnosed with a reproductive cancer, especially ovarian and uterine (endometrial) cancers, experience improved outcomes when treated first by a gynecologic oncologist. The 2008 State of the State of Gynecologic Cancers: Sixth Annual Report to the Women of America, published by the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF), details these results.

Gynecologic oncologists are physicians committed to the comprehensive treatment of women with cancer. After completing four years of medical school and four years of residency in obstetrics and gynecology, these physicians pursue an additional three to four years of training in gynecologic oncology through a rigorous fellowship program overseen by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Gynecologic oncologists are not only trained to be skilled surgeons capable of performing wide-ranging cancer operations, but also are trained in prescribing the appropriate chemotherapy for those conditions and/or radiation therapy when indicated. Frequently, gynecologic oncologists are involved in research studies and clinical trials that are aimed at finding more effective and less toxic treatments to further advance the field and improve cure rates.

“While only approximately 1/3 of women with ovarian cancer receive their initial surgery for ovarian cancer from a gynecologic oncologist, those who do are more likely to experience the appropriate and recommended surgery,” said Dr. Carol Brown, Medical Editor of the report and Associate Attending Surgeon, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “Moreover, gynecologic oncologists are more likely to perform radical procedures during surgery resulting in a lower volume of residual disease. Data shows that patients operated on by surgeons more likely to use radical surgical procedures doubled their median survival time,” she continued.

Endometrial cancer patients also have better outcomes when their initial surgery is performed by a gynecologic oncologist. This is true for two primary reasons: First, gynecologic oncologists are more likely to perform complete surgical staging that includes removal of lymph nodes from the pelvis and aortic regions. Second, when treating women with Stage I endometrial cancer, gynecologic oncologists are less likely to recommend follow-up radiation therapy. This reduces the cost of care by 31 percent, prevents complications from over-treatment and offers patients a better quality of life.

Similar benefits are experienced by patients diagnosed with other gynecologic cancers, primarily due to the extensive surgical skills of gynecologic oncologists.

The membership of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologist (SGO) is comprised primarily of gynecologic oncologists. “Our purpose as a profession is to help women achieve the best possible outcome from their gynecologic cancer diagnosis,” stated Dr. Thomas Burke, SGO president. “It is our hope that the data in this report will help women and their healthcare providers make the appropriate decision regarding their care,” he added.

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) recognizes that generalist obstetrician-gynecologists provide the majority of cancer screening and long-term follow up care for their patients,” said Dr. Douglas Kirkpatrick, ACOG President. “This GCF/SGO report points out how collaboration with a gynecologic oncologist, where available, for cancer treatment and continuing care may provide additional benefit,” Dr. Kirkpatrick stated.

To obtain a copy of the report or to learn more about gynecologic cancers, visit GCF’s Women’s Cancer Network™ at www.wcn.org.

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation provides information on the leading types of cancer including gynecologic cancers—ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and cervical cancer. Visit www.wcn.org to read about cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancer survivor stories and gather additional information on cancer statistics, graphs and charts, as well as clinical trials for cancer and new cancer treating drugs.

Spotlight

This special section in Self Magazine features a GYN surgeon and 34-year-old (at the time of diagnosis) patient.

Awareness

This year’s National Race to End Women’s Cancer aims to spread the word that all women should Love Your Ladyparts! Check out site’s new features and join the MOVEMENT.

Research

The Foundation’s research award winners will be notified in January. Thank you to all who sent in their applications.

Education

The next Gynecologic Cancer Survivors Course will be February 7-8 in Anchorage, Alaska. For more information on educational events and courses, click here.