Gynecologic cancer care in Denver
At HealthONE, our dedicated oncologists provide comprehensive, compassionate care for women with gynecologic cancer. Our hospitals offer extensive treatment options—including robot-assisted surgery—to provide effective outcomes for our patients.
Additionally, we work together to help you understand your diagnosis and treatment options through continued education and support.
For more information about cancer diagnosis, treatment and other services, call askSARAH at (303) 253-3225.
Our gynecologic oncology program
Gynecologic oncology refers to cancer of the female reproductive organs. It includes:
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Vulvar cancer
A diagnosis of a gynecologic cancer can be frightening and overwhelming for patients. That’s why our dedicated team of gynecologic oncologists in Denver, Colorado, walk alongside you and help you learn more about your diagnosis, treatment options and path to survivorship.
Advanced care for cervical cancer
Cervical cancer occurs when cancer cells appear in the cervix, the connection between the uterus and vagina. The two most common types of cervical cancer are squamous cell, which occurs in the cells that line the cervix, and adenocarcinoma, which occurs in the cells that make mucus and other fluids.
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 smear tests should begin at 21 years old and should be repeated every few years.
Additionally, a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is available for girls and women between 9 and 26 years old, which may help reduce the risk for developing cervical cancer.
Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer
Similar to many other cancers, the earliest stages of cervical cancer may not produce any symptoms. This 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
- Discharge that is watery or bloody, sometimes heavy and foul smelling
- Pain during intercourse
Cervical cancer risk factors
Risk factors for cervical cancer include:
- Early sexual activity
- Having sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Many sexual partners
Ovarian cancer care
Ovarian cancer will affect an estimated 22,000 women in the U.S. this year. It has a history of being difficult to diagnose as it often was not found until it spread beyond the reproductive organs. With new insight on 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 have one or more risk factors. If you believe you are at risk for ovarian cancer, we encourage you to discuss your concerns with your primary care doctor if you have a history of any of the following:
- Estrogen and hormone replacement therapy use
- Fertility drug use
- Family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colorectal cancer
- Having no children/pregnancies
- Male hormone use
- 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.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- Abdominal discomfort and/or pain
- Abnormal bleeding from the vagina
- Feeling of fullness, even after only a light meal
- Gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating or cramps
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, diarrhea, constipation or frequent urination
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period of time, please contact your doctor.
Uterine cancer care
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, and it primarily affects postmenopausal women.
The good news is through education, support and advanced treatment options. At HealthONE hospitals, nearly triple the number of patients we treat with Stage 4 uterine cancer are alive five years after treatment when compared to other Colorado hospitals.
Uterine cancer risk factors
Risk factors for uterine cancer include:
- Age (Uterine cancer can occur at any age, however, risk increases with age.)
- Family history of endometrial or colorectal cancer
- More years of menstruation
- Never having been pregnant
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Poor diet and exercise habits
- Using things that affect hormones, such as estrogen supplements or birth control pills
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 smear results
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain during urination or difficulty urinating
- Pelvic pain
The most common treatment for this highly curable cancer is the surgical removal of the uterus, also called a hysterectomy.
Care for vulvar cancer
The vulva is the external portion of the female reproductive 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.
Additional risk factors for vulvar cancer include:
- Age (Vulvar cancer can occur at any age, however, risk increases with age.)
- History of precancerous conditions of the vulva
- History of skin conditions involving the vulva
- Weakened immune system
Signs and symptoms of vulvar cancer
Common signs and symptoms of vulvar cancer include the following in the vulvar area:
- Abnormal bleeding
- Changes to the skin
- Itching that won’t resolve
- Lumps, bumps or open sores
Treatment options for gynecologic cancer
Our team of doctors, nurses, surgeons and healthcare professionals will work together to create an individualized treatment plan to fit your unique needs. This may include:
- Radiation therapy
Robotic surgery for gynecologic cancer treatment
Our gynecologic oncology program features a highly advanced surgical robot for appropriate cases.
Robotic surgery is designed to provide surgeons with enhanced capabilities, including high-definition 3D vision, a magnified view and better control. This advanced technology allows the doctors to perform complex procedures through just a few tiny openings, resulting in:
- Faster recovery
- Less blood loss and transfusions
- Less pain
- Less risk of infection
- Less scarring
- Quicker return to normal activities
Consult with your doctor to determine your eligibility for robotic surgery.
About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute
As 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.