SGO physician members are key components in any comprehensive, multidisciplinary and integrative gynecologic cancer care team. SGO has traditionally been comprised of gynecologic oncologists, but in recent years our physician membership has expanded to include medical oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and radiation oncologists. Learn more about these specialists in the SGO video: “On Your Side: The Gynecologic Cancer Care Team.”
The role of a gynecologic oncologist in treating patients with cancers of the female reproductive system is multifaceted. Trained as surgeons, gynecologic oncologists perform complex surgery on their patients, administer chemotherapy, treat patients for recurrences and play a major role in coordinating the patient’s cancer care. Additionally, gynecologic oncologists conduct clinical research and enroll some of their patients in clinical trials.
The role of a medical oncologist in the treatment of gynecologic cancers is to administer chemotherapy and work closely with the gynecologic oncologists and radiation oncologists in determining the optimal chemotherapy plan. Medical oncologists might also determine if any of their patients are eligible for any clinical trials.
Pathologists study the origin, nature and course of a disease. Once a patient has had a procedure that yields a piece of tissue—for example, from a Pap smear or needle biopsy—the pathologist examines the tissue with an electron microscope and makes the diagnosis as to what the disease process is. Pathologists are tasked with classifying the cancer tumor, which will help determine the choice of therapy.
Radiologists make a presumptive diagnosis of cancer based upon the patient presenting certain symptoms and undergoing imaging—often by CT scan, ultrasound or an MRI. Not only do radiologists evaluate the disease and its extent, but they also report it to the clinicians so that they can use that information to help treat the patient. Radiologists also help obtain a diagnosis by doing imaging guided biopsies and other procedures.
Radiation oncologists deliver radiation therapy to treat a wide variety of cancers, including cancers of the female reproductive system. A radiation oncologist is involved in a patient’s care throughout the continuum of the disease state. Radiation oncologists can treat patients who have early stage cancers in a curative way. For patients with advanced stage cancers, radiation oncologists can provide an improved quality of life when palliative care is needed.
Photo courtesy of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute