Allied Health members of the SGO are the physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and other non-physician health care practitioners who are focused on the treatment and care of women with gynecologic cancers. Learn more about these practitioners in the SGO video: “On Your Side: The Gynecologic Cancer Care Team.”
As experts in general medicine, PAs can diagnose, treat and prescribe medicine. They are trained to make diagnostic and therapeutic decisions while working autonomously or in collaboration with other members of the health care team. PAs are certified as medical generalists with a foundation in primary care. Over the course of their careers, many PAs practice in two or three medical specialty areas, such as gynecologic oncology.
A nurse practitioner (NP), also known as an advanced practice nurse, is a registered nurse with an advanced education and clinical training in a health care specialty area. A patient might have chemotherapy NPs and surgical NPs as part of her gynecologic oncology team. Nurse practitioners work closely with patients and are often the “eyes and the ears” for the physicians they work with. NPs also work with pharmacists, social workers and case managers in coordinating care for their patients.
A woman with a gynecologic cancer may have a number of registered nurses on her care team, especially the nurses tasked with handling chemotherapy and palliative care for their patients. Other duties of an RN in a gynecologic oncology setting include triaging patients, reviewing laboratory work, writing chemotherapy orders and working with other physicians on a patient’s cancer care team.
Certified Genetic Counselor
A certified genetic counselor’s role in treating a patient with a gynecologic cancer involves dealing with future cancers as well as cancer risks for their family members. It is recommended that anyone with ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer meet with a genetic counselor to discuss the option of genetic testing for the tumor suppressor genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. A BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation can be an indication of an increased cancer risk.