Being diagnosed with gynecologic cancer—cervical, endometrial, fallopian tube, ovarian or vaginal—can be overwhelming. Fortunately, treatments for gynecologic cancers have progressed significantly. In fact, Main Line Health offers the most revolutionary options available today.
"There are numerous breakthroughs in the field of gynecologic cancer treatment. So many of these advances weren't available just five years ago," explains David Holtz, MD, gynecologic oncologist for Main Line Health. "We personalize treatment to each woman based on her specific disease, situation and needs. Our treatment is never a one-size-fits-all approach."
Main Line Health is known for its excellence in complex gynecologic surgeries, including minimally invasive vaginal, laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgeries. These surgical approaches, which are tailored to each patient, are an option for both risk reduction and cancer treatment. There are other advanced treatment options as well.
Targeted therapy and immunotherapy, effective treatments for gynecologic cancers
For women with ovarian, advanced uterine or cervical cancer, Main Line Health provides targeted therapy whenever possible. Each tumor is tested to determine its unique characteristics and mutations. Women are then treated with medications developed to stop the pathway of that specific mutation, if available.
"Many targeted therapies are currently in development. When we can stop cancer at its source, treatment is more effective," says Dr. Holtz. "We have made amazing strides in cancer treatment because of targeted therapies. It's helping women live years longer."
Another method of treating cancer harnesses the body's own ability to fight off disease. Immunotherapy stimulates the patient's immune system to recognize the cancer as a foreign invader and attack it. Main Line Health combines immunotherapy with targeted therapies whenever possible.
HIPEC therapy treatments for gynecologic cancers
Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a method of providing chemotherapy drugs in a way that is more effective and less toxic than traditional chemotherapy.
Patients who are candidates for HIPEC first have any visible cancer surgically removed. Then, warmed chemotherapy medication is pumped directly into the abdomen to kill any lingering microscopic cancer cells. This provides a more targeted dose of chemotherapy to the area of the cancer and eliminates the need for IV chemotherapy, which circulates the drugs through the entire bloodstream.
"HIPEC requires a high level of coordination among many disciplines," says Dr. Holtz. "It has been shown to improve survival rates."
Access to clinical trials for treatments for gynecologic cancers
Main Line Health is also actively involved in several clinical trials, providing patients access to promising treatments that are not yet available to the general public. These include new targeted medications and other therapies.
"We look for clinical trials that we believe will most benefit our patients," explains Dr. Holtz. "Offering advanced treatments that are safe and effective gives our patients the best chance of beating gynecologic cancers."