Women with gynecologic cancers must deal with the psychological impact of a cancer that affects their very definition of femininity while they worry about survival. At Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, a team of specialists helps women cope with the psychological effects of having a gynecologic cancer, while designing a treatment program to give them the best chance of a positive outcome.
Nationally Recognized Experts Deliver Care
The physicians in the Gynecologic Cancer Program at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin are nationally recognized experts who work together for the benefit of their patients. While women are assigned a gynecologist oncologist who will oversee their case, all treatment decisions are made as a team, after considering the input of multiple experts.
The Gynecologic Oncology tumor board, a multidisciplinary group that includes radiation oncologists, gynecologic oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and specialists in obstetrics and gynecology, meets regularly to review individual patient cases.
Having all of this expertise in one room allows physicians to create coordinated treatment plans based on the input of experts from each discipline involved with treatment. This is critical when treating a complex disease such as cancer; an uncoordinated approach may complicate treatment or may not uncover treatment options that could be of benefit.
A Broad Range of Treatment Options
In the Gynecologic Cancer Program, women have access to the most current treatments. Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin set the standard in cancer treatment, frequently bringing new therapies to residents of Wisconsin.
Clinical trials offer additional treatment options for women who meet specific eligibility criteria. If you have been newly diagnosed with cancer, or if you have not responded to standard treatments, ask your doctor about participating in a clinical trial. By participating in a cancer clinical trial, you become a partner in discovery and work one-on-one with the research team. You also have a vital and active role in your care. You should know that you will receive the customary, high standard of medical care whether or not you choose to participate in a clinical trial. Take plenty of time to review all the information you receive about a clinical trial so you fully understand it. The decision to participate is yours to make. Learn more about current clinical trials for gynecologic cancers.
Surgery is a mainstay of cancer treatment. Most patients with gynecologic cancer will undergo some kind of surgery; for many patients, surgical treatment may be all that’s required.
At Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, gynecologic oncologists recommend surgical alternatives based on the patient’s type of cancer and its stage, as well as a woman’s health history and overall health status. Whenever possible, our physicians recommend (and perform) minimally-invasive surgeries to increase patient comfort and decrease healing time.
Hysterectomy, the treatment of choice for endometrial cancer, can be performed laparoscopically with or without the aid of the da Vinci® Surgical System. This physician-controlled robotic technology improves the visual field and increases range of motion, enabling physicians to manipulate surgical tools in ways that would be impossible for the unaided human hand.
Our physicians are accustomed to being on the leading edge: Medical College of Wisconsin gynecologic oncologists were the first in the area to perform laparoscopic cancer staging and the first to perform laparoscopic radical hysterectomies.
Not all gynecologic cancer patients will require chemotherapy. But for those who do, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin presents a broad range of treatment options, including standard intravenous chemotherapy, intravenous and intraperitoneal chemotherapy, and novel combinations of drugs offered as part of national clinical trials.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin were the first in the region to offer intraperitoneal chemotherapy for patients with ovarian cancer, just a month after the national Gynecologic Oncology Group published a report showing increased survival rates for ovarian cancer patients treated with a combination of intravenous and intraperitoneal chemotherapy (chemotherapy instilled directly into the abdomen).
Today, approximately 80 percent of our ovarian cancer patients qualify for, and receive, intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Nationwide, only about 50 percent of women who qualify for intraperitoneal chemotherapy receive the potentially life-saving treatment.
As an academic medical center, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin treats thousands of patients every year. Because our radiation oncologists have such extensive experience, they are able to offer a wide variety of innovative radiation therapies.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin were the first in the region to use high dose rate brachytherapy, a kind of internal radiation, to treat gynecologic cancers.
With high dose rate brachytherapy, a number of tiny catheters (tubes) are placed into and around the tumor, and a high dose of radiation is delivered through the catheters to the tumor. The entire treatment takes hours instead of days. Image guidance is used to target the tumor and avoid adjacent normal tissues.
Froedtert & the Medical College were also the first health care facility in the nation to be named a “Tomotherapy Center of Excellence,” and are expanding the use of image-guided radiation to improve patient outcomes while minimizing side effects.
Imaging scans allow the radiation oncologist to deliver high doses of radiation precisely to the tumor location. (The tumor location can change slightly from day to day.) Our advanced technology enables us to target the tumor, while avoiding healthy tissue.
Gynecologic cancers attack a woman’s reproductive organs, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never be a parent. Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin offer fertility preservation options, including egg freezing. We use a highly specialized technique called “vitrification,” which freezes eggs quickly, preserving their viability. Learn more about fertility preservation, offered through our Reproductive Medicine Center.