Gynecologic oncologists have specialized traing in the diagnosis, treatment and management of cancers affecting the reproductive system in women, providing surgical and non-surgical care.

About Gynecologic Oncology

Approximately 80,000 women in the United States are diagnosed annually with some form of gynecologic cancer – Gynecologic Oncologists play a vital role in preventing, diagnosing and treating women that suffer from these diseases. Overall, these physicians are helping to reduce the high levels of mortality rates among women who are diagnosed with ovarian and other cancers – recent estimates have shown that nearly half of all women with ovarian cancer will die within five years of being diagnosed. Many gynecologic oncologists also perform research in addition to treating patients in clinical settings.

A woman may seek care from a gynecologic oncologist to treat a range of gynecologic cancers. These may include ovarian, uterine, cervical, fallopian tube, vulvar, and vaginal cancers. In certain cases, gynecologic oncologists may also provide care for breast cancers. Their scope of care can encompass preventive care, diagnostic procedures and testing, and surgical or non-surgical treatment options.

When diagnosing patients with gynecologic cancer, gynecologic oncologists are able to utilize a variety of cancer screening tests, including blood tests, MRI scans, CT scans, ultrasounds and X-rays, among others. After a diagnosis is made, gynecologic oncologists prepare treatment plans based upon each patient’s individual diagnosis, medical history, and type and stage of cancer. This combination of factors will dictate the patient's specific treatment path, as many reproductive cancers can be effectively treated with surgery, hormone therapy, radiation, or chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatment modalities.

Gynecologic Oncology Education & Training

Gynecologic oncologists are specialists who have completed a bachelor’s degree, MD or DO medical degree, four years of residency training, and two to three years of specialized fellowship training. After being accepted to an obstetrics & gynecology (OB/GYN) residency, the physician will spend four years receiving training in pregnancy and delivery, as well as sexual and reproductive health in females. The residents will provide or assist in the provision of obstetric & gynecologic care while under the supervision of more experienced physicians.

After completing an OB/GYN residency, the physician must complete additional training in the form of a three year fellowship devoted specifically to gynecologic oncology; fellowships in this area are highly competitive and selective. Gynecologic oncology fellowships train the physician in the diagnosis and treatment of precancerous and cancerous conditions of the gynecologic tract and surrounding organs – as fellows these physicians are trained surgeons, teachers and researchers in the field. Throughout this period of specialized training, the physician receives laboratory and clinical training in areas such as the instruction in gynecologic cancer surgery and complex benign surgery; surgical management of all types of gynecologic cancer; rotations in general medical, radiation and surgical oncology; training in the surgical ICU; and training in chemotherapy and other radiation therapies utilized within the specialty. Although each fellowship varies in its program structure, all gynecologic oncologists are able to diagnose, treat, manage and perform necessary surgeries on cancers of the reproductive system in women.

in addition to subspecialty certification in gynecologic oncology from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG). To maintain subspecialty board certification, gynecologic oncologists must complete continuing medical education requirements that meet Maintenance of Certification (MOC) standards. Finally, like all types of physicians gynecologic oncologists must be issued a medical license from the state in which they provide care.