Gynaecological Oncology is a specialised field of medicine that focuses on cancers of the female reproductive system. Gynaecological Oncologists are specialists who have completed 6 years of specialist training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and then undertake extensive training in the diagnosis and management of gynaecological cancers. They are expert in pelvic surgery and preoperative and post operative care, but also understand the principles of medical oncology and radiation oncology.
Gynaecological Oncologists undertake surgery for women with gynaecological cancers, but work in a collaborative team. The team comprises:
A hospital doctor who works closely with your gynaecological oncologist, and will look after the non surgical aspects of your hospital recovery. Their role is to identify any problems before they become problems and to check on you daily. The perioperative physician will probably order some blood tests and other tests before and during your hospital stay.
This is a medical specialist who has done post graduate training in anaesthetics and whose role it is to administer the anaesthetic, watch over you closely during the surgery, and ensure that you wake up safely. He/she will also coordinate your postoperative analgesia.
The pathologist is the medical specialist who will look at the tissue obtained at surgery. This will involve examining the tissue under the microscope and using special tests on the tissue in order to make a specific and accurate diagnosis.
A medical oncologist is a medical specialist who uses drugs to treat cancer. This may include oral or intravenous chemotherapy or immunotherapy. The medical oncologist will coordinate your care whilst you are undergoing chemotherapy. He/she will undertake blood tests and monitor for and manage any side effects of treatment.
A radiation oncologist is a medical specialist who uses radiation to treat cancer.
A nurse specialist will help you as you recover from surgery and guide you as you start your “journey”.
A psychologist is available to help with the stresses of dealing with a cancer diagnosis and the challenges that flow on.
A clinical geneticist usually works as part of a team in a familial cancer clinic. Their role is identify if there may be an inherited basis to your cancer and to see if there may be any implications for you of your family.
Other surgical specialists
Sometimes a gynaecological cancer may involve the bowel, bladder or other organs. In such cases, other surgeons such as colorectal or urologists may need to be involved.
Every patient who is diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer will have their case discussed at a multidisciplinary meeting . This meeting involves a group of gynaecological oncologists, pathologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. Tus as a patient you are getting the advantage of a dozen or more expert opinions in one sitting. The pathology slides will be reviewed and the diagnosis confirmed along with the specifics of grade and stage of malignancy. The case is discussed in detail and a consensus is reached in regard to the optimum management plan, as recommended by the team. Your gynaecological oncologist will then discuss this plan with you. There is no compulsion for you to follow through with this plan, but most people do.