Women are at risk for several types of cancer of the reproductive organs: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar. As a group, they are referred to as gynecologic cancer. Although unusual there is also a rare type of cancer that originates in the fallopian tube.
It is estimated that close to 90,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer every year. In the United States, cancer of the uterus (uterine corpus, also known as cancer of the endometrium) is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs. Gynecologic cancers begin in different places within a woman's pelvis.
- Cervical cancer begins in the uterine cervix, which is the lower, narrow end of the uterus.
- Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which are located in the pelvis on each side of the uterus.
- Uterine cancer begins in the body of the uterus; it is also called endometrial cancer because it originates from the inner lining of the uterine cavity or endometrium.
- Vaginal cancer begins in the vagina, which is the hollow channel between the lower part of the uterus and the external genitalia.
- Vulvar cancer begins in the vulva, the outer part of the female genital organs.
Each gynecologic cancer is unique, with different signs and symptoms, different risk factors and prevention measures. All women are at risk for gynecologic cancers, and the risk increases with age. When gynecologic cancers are found early, treatment is usually effective and curative.
Depending on the type of cancer either surgery alone or combined with radiation and / or chemotherapy offer possibility of cure or long term remission in many patients.
Brachytherapy for gynecological cancer: is a form of radiation treatment that works inside your body. ICI's highly trained staff administers Gynecologic Brachytherapy treatment which involves the insertion of a small device into the vagina, remotely loaded for a few minutes, with a radioactive seed. It is sometimes necessary after surgery to use this technique to treat areas of the vagina where the cancer is more likely to return. Brachytherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that ICI offers. Fortunately for patients, it carries minimal side effects.
On the day of the procedure you will come to our office without need of any special preparation. Imaging studies are usually done prior to the treatment to outline the brachytherapy radiation field and make the appropriate dose calculations. Usually, this involves a CT of the pelvis with the device in place.
Each Brachytherapy treatment usually takes between five and fifteen minutes, once per day, two or three times per week.
Once the treatment begins, there is no risk of radiation exposure for your loved ones. Once you leave treatment, there will be no radiation inside your body, and you are free to enjoy your day. During the course of your treatment, you may continue to work as long as this does not require strenuous physical activity.
Selected patients may require a combination of external beam radiation followed by brachytherapy treatment.