If you suspect or have been diagnosed with ovarian, endometrial/uterine, cervical, vulvar or vaginal cancer, it is important to see a gynecologic oncologist—medical doctors with specialized training in treating gynecologic cancers who can manage your care from diagnosis to completion of treatment.
Women who have their gynecologic cancer treatment overseen by a gynecologic oncologist have higher cure rates than women treated by another type of doctor
In addition to a gynecologic oncologist, you will come in contact with many health care professionals during your treatment—these people make up your treatment team. They will work with each other and with you to provide the special care you need. Your treatment team may include some of the healthcare professionals listed below.
Medical oncologist who specializes in using drug therapy (chemotherapy) to treat cancer.
Radiation oncologist who specializes in using radiation therapy to treat cancer.
Oncology nurse who specializes in cancer care. An oncology nurse can work with you on every aspect of your care, from helping you understand your diagnosis and treatment to providing emotional and social support.
Social worker who is professionally trained in counseling and practical assistance, community support programs, home care, transportation, medical assistance, insurance, and entitlement programs. Social workers are very helpful advocates, especially when you are first diagnosed and unsure about what to do next.
Patient navigator who educates patients about the disease and serves as an advocate on behalf of the patient and their caregivers throughout cancer treatment.
Clinical trial or research nurse if you are participating in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are necessary for finding new treatments and improving patient care. Clinical trial nurses play a key role in this research by ensuring patients’ safety and offering support throughout the research study.
Palliative care specialist who focuses on providing care and treatments which improve quality of life for people in any stage of their illness.
Genetic counselor who works with people who are thinking about having genetic testing. They can talk with you about your risk of an inherited cancer syndrome, explain the tests and results, and help you talk with your doctor and your family about what the results mean.
Nutritionist or registered dietitian who is an expert in helping you maintain healthy eating habits. This is important in the recovery process. These professionals help you overcome potential side effects of treatment such as poor appetite, nausea or mouth sores. It is important to note that natural remedies and supplements should only be taken under the supervision of a naturopathic physician in consultation with your gynecologic oncologist.
Talking with your team
You deserve expert advice and treatment from your treatment team. Be sure to talk openly about your concerns with the members of your treatment team. Let them know what is important to you. If it is hard for you to speak for yourself, these tips may help:
- Make a list of questions before your visit—the American Cancer Society published a list of questions you may want to ask. Ask the most important questions first.
- Take notes or ask if you can record your medical office visits and phone conversations.
- If you don’t understand something, ask the treatment team member to explain it again in a different way.
- If possible, bring another person with you when you meet with members of your treatment team to discuss test results and treatment options.
- Be truthful in reporting how you feel and any side effects.
On Your Side: The Gynecologic Cancer Care Team is a five-minute video about the gynecologic cancer care team.