Gynecologic cancer is a category that covers all women's reproductive cancers, including ovarian cancer, endometrial (uterine cancer), cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. We know that there are a lot of questions that you may have after a gynecologic cancer diagnosis that Minnesota Oncology can help answer as you prepare for your first appointment.
This guide will help you prepare for your first appointment with the cancer specialist.
What Type of Doctor Treats Gynecologic Cancer?
A gynecologist or a primary care physician may have found and diagnosed cervical, ovarian, endometrial, or another type of female cancer. They will refer you to a gynecologic oncologist. A gynecologic oncologist is a cancer doctor who specializes in treating cancers of the female reproductive system.
As a patient of Minnesota Oncology, you’ll see one of our gynecologic cancer specialists located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Before any types of cancer treatment begin, the gynecologic oncologist will sit down with you and go over your specific diagnosis and the types of treatment that are recommended. He or she will also be the lead physician for your care and typically performs the surgery to remove the cancer when the time is right.
Treatment Depends on Your Type of Gynecologic Cancer
The specific treatments you'll receive are based on the type of gynecologic cancer you have, the extent of the cancer, where it's located, and your overall health status. Depending on the stage and location of the cancer, other treatments may be suggested either before and/or after surgery, such as:
Your gynecologist oncologist can explain why each type of therapy is recommended and at what point in the treatment process.
Tips for Remembering Your Questions and Your Appointment Experiences
You’ll be receiving a lot of essential information from the oncologist and other Minnesota Oncology team members including the financial counselor, nurse navigator, and others. It can be difficult to remember everything. Here’s are some ideas on how to keep track
1) Keep a notebook or binder
A notebook or binder can help you to stay organized and have a record of all the essential information. Feel free to take notes before your first appointment, during appointments and between appointments. You might record information such as:
- Questions before the appointment and then record the answers during the appointment.
- Your feelings
- The names of chemotherapies or other treatments that you’ll receive so you can share this information with family later. (They’re sure to ask.)
- A list of all medications and supplements you're taking, their doses and when you took it last
- Your observations or thoughts on procedures or appointments
Add the date on everything you record in your notebook.
If you find there’s a better method than recording everything in a notebook, go ahead and use that, but commit to it. When you write the information down and keep it on hand, it could help maintain an open line of communication with you and your physicians.
2) Get help remembering everything by bringing a loved one to your first appointment.
We suggest you take a friend or family member with you for your initial appointment for support. They’ll not only be with you to offer you emotional support, but they’ll also be there to listen and help you jot down notes on the information you’re receiving. At this time, new patients are able to bring one person with them to a new appointment. This is to help reduce traffic in and out of the office during the pandemic.
Should You Get a Second Opinion Before Cancer Treatment?
It’s very important that you’re confident in the diagnosis you receive regarding your gynecologic cancer. That’s why a lot of patients will opt to obtain a second opinion before they start their treatment plan.
At Minnesota Oncology, our oncologists offer many second opinions on not just the diagnosis of gynecologic cancer, but the options of treatments as well. Additionally, our physicians are not offended if you seek a second opinion after talking to them. They understand that it's a normal part of the treatment decision process. And, while most insurance providers will cover the cost of a second opinion evaluation, you might still want to give them a call to verify that it’s indeed covered.
You’ll Get More Than Cancer Treatment at Minnesota Oncology
At Minnesota Oncology, your cancer care team will develop the best possible treatment plan based upon the most current treatment options available as well as clinical research trials.
Cancer treatment is more than the therapies. It’s also about your mental and emotional well-being. Talk to your gynecologic oncologist about assistance available through our practice.
If you’ve been given a cancer diagnosis of the female reproductive system, schedule an appointment or request a second opinion with one of our gynecologic oncologists located in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Edina, Maplewood and Coon Rapids.