By now, you would have done a substantial amount of research on gynaecological cancers and precancerous conditions. However the treatment of cancer is a very individual based treatment depending on the type and stage of disease. It would be important for you to seek your treatment with an appropriate specialist as gynae cancers do not give you a second chance...
To quote a patient who travels 300 miles to see her gynecologic oncologist. Why? "It's a small price to pay for potentially saving a life". She's not exaggerating!
Gynecologic oncologists are specialists in the area of female reproductive cancers. After medical school, they spend another 4 years obtaining their specialist degree and qualify as an Obstetrician and Gyanecologist. After that they spend a further 3-4 years sub-specialising in gynae cancers. They are trained in all the treatments for gynae cancers - surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Gynaecologic oncologists do not only perform surgery on the female reproductive system, but on all the organs of the pelvic and abdominal tissues and organs which may be involved if cancer has spread. Most importantly, they are extensively trained in the vital techniques of surgical staging and cyto-reductive surgery (also called "debulking"). These procedures can ultimately be a matter of life and death. In some cases, accurate surgical staging does not take place because the patient does not see a gynaecologic oncologist and is ill informed. They are only referred to gynaecologic oncologist after surgery and this usually alters the outcome.
Even when other O&G specialists perform surgical staging procedures, they are less likely to do it as accurately as a gynae oncologist. My trainers used to tell me - "it's not about the money, it's about doing what is right especially when it involves cancer or suspicion of cancer".
Finding the exact stage of the cancer is vital to planning the best treatment. In the case of surgery, gynae oncologists simply do a better job of finding and removing tumours that have spread in the pelvic and abdominal areas.
EVERY WOMAN WITH OVARIAN CANCER SHOULD BE TREATED BY A GYNECOLOGIC ONCOLOGIST IF AT ALL POSSIBLE
Several studies have shown that women with ovarian cancer live longer if they are treated by gynaecologic oncologists than one of the other specialties (gynecologists, oncologists, surgeons). Accurate surgical staging and appropriate surgery are crucial to the optimal treatment of ovarian cancer but not all doctors tell you this for fear of losing their patients. A lot of cases end up as "operating room surprises" and the cancer is further spread due to this.
Pre cancer and cervical cancers should be seen by a gynaecologic oncologist, if possible. Also, if a woman has recurrent severe dysplasia (abnormal cells on pap smear) and a hysterectomy is being considered, she might think about getting the opinion of a gynaecologic oncologist.
Often, women with these cancers are not referred to gynaecologic oncologists because many are at low risk for spreading beyond the uterus. However and unfortunately, the cancer can be more invasive and the woman is at higher risk. In these cases the proper surgery is more complicated and best done by a gynaecologic oncologist.
Gynecologic oncologists are trained in providing comprehensive, multi-disciplinary care. In Malaysia gynecologic oncologists are unique in that they are skilled surgical oncologists who are also trained in administering chemotherapy. Therefore, they are able to provide the continuity of care for their patients. For example, they will perform the surgery to remove the tumour and decide on further treatment if necessary. If chemotherapy is indicated, the same gynecologic oncologist is capable of administering treatment. This allows the patient to form a long-term, meaningful relationship with her physician.
The gynecologic oncologist is prepared to provide important supportive services such as: pain management, management of medical or surgical complications from treatment, complications of the cancer, and hospice referral. Ultimately, this leads to patient benefit.