From the first visit, our patients are approached as an individual. We believe that a compassionate team can make a difference in treatment. We are always on the forefront of treatment developments to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients.
Gynecologic cancer starts in a woman’s reproductive organs. The signs, symptoms and treatments are as unique as each individual it affects. At Loma Linda University Health Cancer Center, we have assembled a team of experts working together in one location to create a treatment plan designed just for you.
Learn more about our comprehensive treatment offerings, including ovarian-sparing treatment for women who are still building a family and treatment for women at high-risk for developing gynecologic cancers. No matter your circumstance, we focus on treating you — not just your cancer.
Why Choose Us for Gynecologic Cancer Care
- Our multidisciplinary team works together to solve your complex cancer needs, including conservative treatments for fertility and managing the side effects of treatment.
- We treat more than 1,300 patients each year — from early intervention to the most complex cancer treatment.
- Loma Linda University Health is recognized nationally and has ranked in the top 50 nationally in U.S. News and World Report for gynecology care. This ranking recognizes our care as significantly better than others across the nation.
- Our gynecologic and radiation oncologists are experts in treating cancers of the reproductive system, giving you a team dedicated to treating your cancer.
- We offer a dedicated nurse navigator and intake coordinator to answer all of your questions and concerns from diagnosis through treatment.
Cervical cancer occurs in the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina). Although the average age of diagnosis is 40, it can also affect younger women. At Loma Linda University Health, we offer advanced diagnostic tests to help detect cancer early, when it is most treatable.
Fallopian tube cancer
Fallopian tubes transport eggs and fertilized eggs from the ovaries to the uterus to assist in conception. Some ovarian cancers can start in the fallopian tubes and have similar symptoms to primary ovarian cancer. Cancer of the fallopian tubes is often inherited and linked to your family history.
Ovarian cancer often has no signs or symptoms and starts in a woman’s ovaries or fallopian tubes, or even along the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum). At Loma Linda University Health, we offer genetic testing to find out if you are at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Peritoneal cancer develops in the thin layer of tissue that lines the abdomen and covers the uterus, bladder and rectum. Although rare, peritoneal cancer acts like cancer that originates in the ovaries or the fallopian tubes.
Uterine cancer (endometrial cancer)
Uterine cancer most often develops in the lining (endometrium) of the uterus (womb). Most endometrial cancers are found early and a key symptom is postmenopausal bleeding. At Loma Linda University Health, we are experts at diagnosing and treating uterine cancer. We use innovative technology to perform precise surgery and minimize recovery time and side effects.
Vaginal cancer develops inside the birth canal or vagina (the tube-like structure that connects the outside of the body and the uterus). Vaginal cancers are very rare, and there is no regular screening to detect vaginal cancer.
Vulvar cancer affects the outside of the vagina, including the clitoris and labia. Vulvar cancer often forms as a lesion on the outside of the vagina and can initially present with itching or discomfort. At Loma Linda University Health, we are experts at treating vulvar cancer and utilize both surgery and radiation as needed.
Uterine sarcoma is a rare cancer that grows from the muscle and supporting tissues of the uterus (womb). At Loma Linda University Health, we are experts at diagnosing and treating uterine sarcoma.
Treatment for Gynecologic Cancer
We understand that a cancer diagnosis and the treatments that accompany it affect more than just your cancer — it affects you and your family. We believe by treating you as a whole person, rather than just a cancer diagnosis, we can enhance your quality of life.
Your cancer care journey depends on many factors, including you, your cancer type and the stage of your cancer. We offer comprehensive treatment options as part of your care plan, including medication, radiation therapy, surgery or supportive care — we often use a combination of these treatments to ensure the best possible outcome.
If you are like many of our patients, you come to us after you have already received a cancer diagnosis. We work with your physician to make sure you are seen quickly by one of our specialists so you can start getting answers and a treatment plan.
We may run additional tests, including:
- Blood work
- PET/CT scan
- Colposcopy (procedure using a special instrument to examine cervix, vagina and vulva)
- Hysteroscopy (procedure to examine inside of the uterus)
As we develop your treatment plan, it is important to understand where your cancer started and if it has spread to any other organs or lymph nodes. Accurately staging your cancer is very important in developing a treatment plan for you. We perform minimally invasive sentinel node biopsy to determine if your cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. During this biopsy, the lymph nodes closest to the cancer are removed and tested to see if the cancer has spread.
To determine the stage of your cancer, we may run a number of tests, including:
- Imaging tests, such as CT scan or PET/CT scan
- Biopsy of cancer site or lymph nodes
Our team of specialists will come together and discuss the complexity and stage of your cancer to develop a treatment plan, which may include medical treatment, radiation treatment or surgery. Our specialists then review your progress weekly to ensure you are getting the best possible care throughout your treatment.
Your treatment plan may include medical treatments to kill the cancer cells and stop it from spreading. Loma Linda University division of Gynecologic Oncology specializes in targeted therapies and immunotherapy that can decrease side effects. This is because we are targeting cancer cells, not healthy cells that surround your cancer.
Targeted therapy combines molecular testing and chemotherapy to stop cancer cells from growing and dividing. These medications can be given in a number of ways — orally, by injection or by IV drip — depending on your specific case. Your care team will talk with you about your specific targeted therapy plan as well as how many cycles of chemotherapy you’ll need.
Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that offers more treatment options every year. Immunotherapy uses your body’s own immune system to help you fight cancer by targeting specific cancer cells. Our expertise and innovative research are uncovering new ways to use immunotherapy to stop cancer cells from spreading and help shrink existing tumors.
Hormone therapy may be used to help block the hormones that are allowing your cancer to spread and grow. This therapy is often used in treating ovarian cancer to block estrogen production.
Radiation therapy uses high energy X-rays to help kill cancer cells, but in most cases, it isn’t as effective as a stand-alone therapy. For that reason, it’s often used in combination with chemotherapy and surgical options. It can be given before surgery to shrink the size of a tumor or after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
Progressive radiation treatments include:
- Proton-based stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) – Used to deliver more precise radiation, while saving healthy surrounding tissue. SBRT is also used when there is a recurrence of cancer, where standard radiation treatment could not be used again.
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) – Uses advanced imaging techniques to specifically target radiation on the tumor, preserving healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – Uses precise doses of radiation conformed to the shape of the tumor.
- Brachytherapy – Placing radioactive seeds near the tumor to target radiation treatment.
Our renowned surgical team will be at your side should you require surgery as part of your treatment plan. We offer a full range of procedures, from minimally invasive to traditional procedures, including:
- Cervical conization (removal of a portion of cervix)
- Cesarean hysterectomy (removal of the uterus through an incision in the abdomen)
- Colposcopy (procedure using special instrument to examine cervix, vagina and vulva)
- Endometrial biopsy (a tissue sample of the uterus lining)
- Fertility sparing procedures
- HIPEC (Hyperthermic Intraoperative Peritoneal Chemotherapy to treat cancers that have spread to the lining of the abdomen)
- Hysterectomy, including minimally invasive and robotic-assisted techniques to remove uterus, cervix, ovaries and/or fallopian tubes
- Hysteroscopy (procedure to examine inside of uterus)
- Intestinal and urinary tract surgery (surgery for tumor removal)
- Ovarian cyst and pelvic mass removal (surgical procedure to remove cyst or tumor)
- Major cancer resections (surgery to remove the tumor)
- Vaginal and labial surgery (surgery on vagina and area surrounding)
Our surgeons specialize in minimally invasive techniques to minimize your complications and get you back on your feet sooner.
Research and Clinical Trials
Loma Linda University division of Gynecologic Oncology is committed to beating cancer. Our research teams are conducting clinical research which allows us to bring innovative screening and treatment straight from the lab to the bedside.
One area we are studying looks at barriers that prevent women from getting screened for gynecologic cancers so we can improve screening and detection rates. This will help women detect cancer in its early stages, when it is most treatable.
The cancer care journey is not always an easy path. We understand that in order to fight your cancer, we need to focus on more than your cancer. We believe true wellness involves more than healing your body — it involves supporting your mind, body and spirit. Our team is here to support you and your family throughout this journey, whether you need help understanding your diagnosis and treatment options, coordinating appointments or simply need a hand to hold.
Our support services include:
- A dedicated nurse navigator and intake coordinator to answer all of your questions and concerns from diagnosis through treatment
- Integrated dietitians to help you manage the gastrointestinal side effects of cancer treatment
- Pastoral care
- Patient education
- Psychosocial care
- Support groups
- Symptom management experts who focus on helping you through your cancer treatment and the side effects you may experience