Gynecologic Oncology | Women's Cancer Care | MedStar Health

Gynecologic Oncology (Women's Cancer Care)

Photo of a doctor having a consultation with a patient

What is gynecologic cancer?

Gynecologic cancer, is any cancer that begins in a woman's reproductive organs. At MedStar Health, our team of experts treats the full range of gynecologic cancers, including cancer of the ovary, endometrium, uterus, cervix, vagina, and vulva. These diseases are named for the organ where cancer begins within the pelvis.

Because we have gynecologic oncology physicians focusing exclusively on treating these types of cancers, we see a high number of patients with gynecologic cancers every year. From prevention and early detection to treatment using the latest surgical techniques and advanced therapies, our board-certified gynecologic oncologists and other specialized experts are dedicated to delivering exceptional care throughout your entire journey.

No two treatments are the same, just as no two patients are alike. That's why our gynecologic oncologists work alongside several other cancer specialists to determine which cancer treatments will be most effective in treating your particular disease, also considering your preferences and goals. Our gynecologic oncology services are located throughout the Washington D.C., Baltimore, Maryland, and Virginia areas.

Why choose MedStar Health for gynecologic cancer care?

Our weekly treatment planning conferences exemplify MedStar Health's team approach to caring for women with these cancers. These meetings allow representatives from gynecologic oncology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, pathology, radiology, research, rehabilitation, and nursing to review new cases and optimize the treatment plan for each patient.

At MedStar Health, you'll also find:

  • Expertise in minimally invasive gynecologic cancer surgery: Whenever possible, our gynecologic oncologists operate using the least invasive techniques possible, including laparoscopy and robotic surgery.
  • Dedication to advancing women's cancer care through research: We continue investigating new and better ways to detect, manage, and treat these diseases through clinical trials that test emerging approaches in gynecologic cancer care.
  • Personalized and comprehensive support services: From diagnosis through recovery, you'll have access to a wide range of specialties and services to help you thrive physically and emotionally.
  • Convenient locations near you: We bring expert gynecologic oncology care close to where you live and work with several offices throughout the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region.

Types of gynecologic cancer we treat

These cancers are a group of malignancies that affect the female reproductive organs. Each specific type of gynecologic cancer is unique, presenting with different risk factors and signs. Therefore, a precise diagnosis is important to receiving the most effective treatment. Learn more about the types of gynecologic cancers we treat below.

Cervical cancer

The cervix is the lower end of the uterus (womb). When abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, they can develop into cancer. This is one of the most common types of cancer affecting the female reproductive system. Fortunately, regular cervical cancer screening can help detect it early when it is more easily treated.

Learn More About Cervical Cancer

Ovarian cancer and fallopian tube (tubal) cancer

Ovarian cancers begin in the ovaries, the walnut-sized organs responsible for producing eggs and female hormones. Women have one ovary on each side of the uterus, which passes eggs through the fallopian tubes into the uterus. Cancer can also develop in the fallopian tubes (tubal cancer), and these cancers are often staged and treated similarly.

Learn More About Ovarian and Fallopian Tube Cancer

Uterine cancer (endometrial cancer)

Uterine cancer encompasses two main types of cancer. The most common type is endometrial cancer, which begins in the endometrium (uterine lining). As a result, most people consider "uterine cancer" and "endometrial cancer" the same. A second, rarer type is uterine sarcoma, which begins in the muscular wall of the uterus and is treated differently.

Learn More About Uterine Cancer

Vaginal cancer

This rare type of cancer begins in the vagina, which connects your cervix to the vulva. Because it is linked to certain strains of the HPV infection, getting an HPV vaccine may reduce the risk of the disease. Because many people don't experience symptoms in early stages, it's important to stay on top of routine pelvic exams and Pap tests.

Learn More About Vaginal Cancer

Vulvar cancer

The vulva is the external opening around the vagina. Although rare, vulvar cancer can develop slowly over years if precancerous lesions (vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia, or VIN) aren’t detected and managed early. Risk factors for this type of cancer include having an HPV infection. Although there are no universal screening guidelines, being aware of your risk and seeking regular gynecologic care may help you to maintain good health.

Learn More About Vulvar Cancer

Our services

From specialized pathology to individualized rehabilitation post-surgery, our gynecologic oncology team offers comprehensive services to care for all of your needs.

  • Advanced imaging: Diagnostic testing may involve one or more advanced imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT), MRI, or PET scans
  • Pap and HPV testing: These screening tests are used to evaluate for abnormalities that could indicate cervical cancer or infections
  • Biopsies: Certain diagnoses may require the removal of a small tissue sample for further evaluation under a microscope
  • Genetic testing and counseling: Those with a family history of gynecologic or other cancers may benefit from meeting with a board-certified genetic counselor who can advise them on risk mitigation and prevention strategies
  • Female pelvic floor medicine: Following cancer treatment, many patients benefit from coordinated care with MedStar Health urogynecologists who can help to manage any impact to the pelvis and develop a personalized plan to improve urinary or sexual function
  • Rehabilitation: Patients have access to physical therapy and occupational therapy services, including pelvic floor therapy and lymphedema management, to help them regain strength or manage side effects (i.e., pelvic pain or incontinence) during and after cancer treatment

Gynecologic cancer treatments

Each woman's treatment plan will be as unique as she is. Treatment depends on the type and stage of cancer, a woman's overall health, and her personal preferences.

Types of surgery for gynecologic cancers

MedStar Health is dedicated to providing the most current and effective clinical expertise and surgical treatment for gynecological cancer. One of the priorities for our gynecologic oncologists, who also perform surgery, is to provide minimally invasive surgical options for patients, including robotic surgery, laparoscopic procedures, and fertility-sparing surgeries. The benefits of these types of surgeries include:

  • Less pain
  • Faster recovery, which means an earlier return to your normal activity levels and less time away from work
  • Shorter hospital stays (typically overnight rather than several nights)
  • Decreased blood loss

Our physicians are careful about recommending certain types of surgeries. The success of a surgery will depend on many complicated factors. Therefore, not every surgery will be right for every patient.

Learn more about some of these procedures below.

Fertility-sparing surgery

A cancer diagnosis is a devastating blow for anyone. However, for a woman who wishes to have children, the diagnosis of gynecologic cancer can strike extra hard. Many of the treatment options available to combat the disease can have a negative effect on a woman's fertility. The good news is that with advances in the field of fertility-sparing surgeries, a woman with gynecological cancer may still be able to have children in the future.

The key factor in fertility-sparing surgery is how advanced the disease is, which is often not known until the surgery. Your surgeon will discuss your surgical options with you prior to the surgery. It is important that you discuss your wish to have children with your doctors.


If cervical cancer is advanced, but still limited to the cervix, a trachelectomy may be a surgical option for you. This procedure removes the cervix and the upper part of the vagina, leaving the uterus in place. It can preserve your fertility, though there are extra steps you need to take during your subsequent pregnancy.

Normally, the cervix acts as a "gate" during pregnancy, keeping the fetus safe in the uterus. Because your cervix was removed, your surgeon will make a small stitch at the bottom of the uterus, to act as a replacement for the cervix, and help keep the pregnancy inside your uterus. Pregnancy following a trachelectomy does carry a higher risk for miscarriage or a premature birth. You would also require a cesarean section to deliver the baby.

Pelvic reconstruction surgery

For women who have undergone extensive surgeries to remove cancer, we offer pelvic reconstructive surgery, a surgical specialty not available at all hospitals. The goal of this procedure is to restore anatomy and function of the pelvic area. Not only can this surgery reduce problems and side effects from cancer treatments, but it can also improve your quality of life.

Pelvic reconstructive surgery may consist of creating a new vagina, bladder, or pelvic floor in a functional and aesthetically pleasing manner. It includes the following specific procedures:

  • A prolapsed pelvis occurs when the muscles inside your pelvis weaken, making it difficult for them to support your pelvic organs (the vagina, uterus, bladder, and bowel). The organs then begin to fall and shift against each other. Reconstruction of the pelvic floor recreates that support and may treat urinary or fecal incontinence.
  • Recurrent cervical cancer exenteration is an extreme type of surgery in which all of the organs of the pelvis, including the bladder and rectum, are removed. The bladder and vagina are rebuilt from the patient's own tissues. This procedure is performed on women who have recurrent cervical cancer. (Recurrent cancer keeps coming back, even after treatment.)

Non-surgical gynecologic cancer treatments

To achieve the best possible outcomes, other women's cancer treatment options may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or hormonal therapy, depending on the stage and type of cancer. We also participate in clinical trials, when appropriate.


Systemic therapy delivers cancer-fighting drugs to cancerous cells throughout the body.

Learn More About Chemotherapy

Immunotherapy and targeted therapy

These emerging therapies offer a more personalized approach to altering how cancer spreads and grows.

Learn More About Immunotherapy

Learn More About Targeted Therapy

Radiation therapy

High-energy radiation X-ray or particle beams target cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue whenever possible.

Learn More About Radiation Therapy

Clinical trials

As promising treatment options emerge, we participate in investigational studies that may offer hope for women with cancer that hasn't responded to other treatments.

Learn More About Clinical Trials

Looking for expert cancer care?

With multiple locations throughout the region, patients have access to many of the nation’s renowned cancer specialists offering high-quality care, second opinions, and a chance for better outcomes close to where they live and work. Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the nation’s comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), serves as the research engine allowing patients access to clinical trials that often lead to breakthroughs in cancer care.

Our locations

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MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9103 Franklin Square Dr.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
Suite 220
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Franklin Square Cancer Center at Loch Raven Campus

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Russell Morgan Building
First Floor
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital

25500 Point Lookout Rd.
First Fl.
Leonardtown, MD 20650

Frequently asked questions

  • What are common gynecologic cancer symptoms and signs?

    All women are at risk for developing a gynecologic cancer. Some of these cancers do not have any symptoms, so it is important to get regular checkups with your MedStar Health gynecologist. Some warning signs which should prompt you to call your doctor or make an appointment include:

    • Unexpected or abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after menopause, bleeding between periods, or bleeding after sexual intercourse
    • Persistent abdominal, pelvic, or lower back pain
    • Bowel or urine irregularities, including bloating, constipation, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
    • Urinary changes, particularly increased frequency or urgency
    • Vulvar or vaginal itching, lumps, or sores

    If you have any of these symptoms for two weeks or more, it’s important to see your MedStar Health gynecologist.

  • What does a gynecologic oncologist do?

    A gynecologic oncologist specializes in both women's conditions and cancer, completing several years of advanced training beyond their initial medical education. Studies show that treatment outcomes are better when managed by a gynecologic oncologist. That's why it's important to seek care from an experienced gynecologic oncologist for proper diagnosis. The more accurate the diagnosis is, the more tailored and precise your treatment plan can be.