The possibility of undergoing surgery, whether major or minor, can be a stressful and overwhelming experience for a woman. Nonetheless, surgery is essential for the diagnosis and treatment of certain gynecologic cancers such as ovarian cancer, endometrial (uterine) cancer, and cervical cancer. The good news is patients are not alone in this journey.
At Compass Oncology, our gynecologic oncology specialists offer comprehensive care and the latest options for cancer treatment. They are also typically the physician who performs the cancer removal surgery. From preparation to recovery, we strive to find the least invasive approach that works best for you.
Compass gynecologic oncologists are well known as technology leaders in minimally invasive surgical techniques. They were among the first in the nation to recognize the benefits of laparoscopic surgery and are the most experienced surgeons in Oregon and Southwest Washington in treating gynecologic cancers utilizing the da Vinci® robotic system.
Minimally invasive surgeries offer distinct advantages to women, such as:
Access is gained through tiny incisions, and state-of-the-art cameras and instrumentation are used to visualize and remove the cancer. MIS can be performed with a laparoscope or with the da Vinci® robotic system. The latter offers additional capabilities than traditional laparoscopy, allowing more women to receive MIS.
Laparoscopy has become the standard method for various gynecologic procedures. During this procedure, a gynecologic surgeon makes a few small incisions instead of one large one. A long, thin tube with a tiny camera, called a laparoscope, is inserted into one of the small cuts. This camera shows the images from the inside of the body to a monitor, giving the surgeon better visibility. The surgeon will then insert special surgery tools through the other small cuts to remove the tumor and some tissue. Typically, laparoscopy is performed under general anesthesia, meaning you will be unconscious for the procedure.
Undergoing gynecologic surgery no longer means patients will have a long hospital stay and a long recovery. Compass offers another option for women—robotic-assisted surgery. Robotic-assisted surgery is advanced laparoscopic surgery that allows surgeons to perform minimally invasive surgery with better precision resulting in better outcomes. Robotic surgery systems use specialized robotic tools and a unique 3D high-definition view inside the body.
Our gynecologic oncology surgeons operate using the latest in robotic technology, the da Vinci Surgical System. Like laparoscopic surgery, robotic-assisted surgery is done through just a few small abdomen incisions. A magnified 3D high-definition vision system and tiny instruments are inserted through these cuts, while surgeons use a robot to control these instruments inside the abdomen to perform the needed procedure. In most cases, patients will be treated as an outpatient with the option of going home the same day.
The majority of robotic-assisted surgeries performed for patients with gynecologic conditions at Compass Oncology, including cancer, require a hysterectomy as part of treatment for cervical cancer, uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, or ovarian cancer.
Despite the great advances in minimally-invasive surgery for gynecologic cancers, surgery is not always the best first-line treatment for some patients. Sometimes neoadjuvant therapy before surgery is needed to reduce the size of the tumor so that it’s easier to remove it surgically later. Common types of neoadjuvant therapy include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy.
If the gynecologic cancer has spread and is in an advanced stage, surgery may be combined with radiation and/or chemotherapy to kill any cancer that is left behind. This is called adjuvant therapy.
Another option for some patients who have had optimal surgical resection with very little remaining cancer is chemotherapy administered directly into the abdominal cavity. This is known as intraperitoneal chemotherapy.
The Gynecologic Oncology and Surgery Specialists at Compass Oncology is the largest group of their kind in the Portland and Vancouver metro area. Our experts are highly specialized in cancers of a woman’s reproductive organs. For decades, our support teams and medical, radiation, and surgical oncologists have collaborated to provide multidisciplinary care in the Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington regions.
After completing four years of medical school and four years of residency in obstetrics and gynecology, they go on to complete a rigorous three to four-year fellowship in gynecologic oncology. During this program, they acquire advanced surgical skills, in-depth knowledge of the biology and pathology of gynecologic cancers, and training in appropriate chemotherapy and radiation therapy techniques. This level of subspecialization offers significant advantages to our patients. Studies on outcomes show that women treated by gynecologic oncologists have a better likelihood of prolonged survival compared to care given by non-specialists.
Compass gynecologic oncologists understand the impact cancer has on all aspects of a woman’s life, including her family, career, fertility, sexuality, and physical and emotional well-being. At Compass, our gynecologic oncologists treat the whole woman, not just the disease. Treatment is always individualized to each patient, and we are always available to answer any questions you may have regarding gynecologic surgery options.