Carolinas HealthCare System
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Gynecologic Oncology

CMC Women's Institute, located in Charlotte and Concord, NC, partners with the Gynecologic Oncology Program at Levine Cancer Institute to provide women with access to the most advanced cancer treatment options available today. Together, we strive to enhance the quality of life for all our patients who are fighting cancer through the coordination and delivery of comprehensive, compassionate, multidisciplinary patient care.

We are the region's largest and most comprehensive program for women with gynecologic cancers. Our program offers all available treatment options including surgery (including advanced minimally invasive and robotic surgery), chemotherapy, radiation therapy and access to current clinical trials. In addition, all of our physicians were named to the 2009-10 Best Doctors in America list.

Treatment of Gynecologic Oncology

Our program provides evaluation of difficult gynecological problems including reconstructive surgery and various treatment options for pre-malignant lesions of the female genital tract. A multidisciplinary treatment plan for each patient is formulated after the initial consultation with one of the gynecologic oncologists. Women requiring hospitalization are cared for in a specialized nursing unit at Carolinas Medical Center. Most gynecologic cancers require a multifaceted treatment approach.

These may include electrocoagulation therapy or laser ablation for pre-invasive cancer of the cervix, as well as surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy for more advanced types of gynecologic cancer. In the greater Charlotte region, no other group has more extensive experience with intraperitoneal chemotherapy (IP) than CMC Women's Institute as our medical team has conducted research and presented on this modality.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

New equipment and surgical techniques have been developed to allow many gynecologic cancer procedures to be performed in a minimally invasive fashion. The obvious benefit of minimally invasive surgery is a shorter recovery time and rapid resumption of normal activities. However, additional benefits include less blood loss, lower wound complication rates and faster delivery of additional therapy.

Minimally invasive surgery is also associated with fewer adhesions and scar tissue than open surgery, potentially reducing the risk of postoperative bowel obstruction. Our physicians also use robotic surgery, enabling enhanced visualization, precision and control for gynecologic cancer surgery. Courses are also offered to teach other physicians these techniques.

Research

Our program participates in research through the Gynecologic Oncology Group, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. A number of investigator-initiated studies are also available which are unique to Levine Cancer Institute. Other innovative and cutting-edge chemotherapy regimens are available through relationships with major pharmaceutical oncology divisions.

Search clinical trials currently available at CHS. We also have an active research program run jointly with UNCC and Cannon Research in the Sonia Wyatt Ovarian Cancer Lab. Much of this work has been centered on looking at genes that are integral to the functioning of ovarian cancers, in addition to work in precursors to endometrial cancer.

Patient Education and Ovarian Cancer Risk Assessment

According to program director James B. Hall, MD, "Sixty-five to 70 percent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at stage III." Therefore, the Gynecologic Oncology Program places a major emphasis on patient education and risk assessment. An ovarian cancer risk assessment is available to women who are concerned that they may be at risk for ovarian cancer due to a family history of ovarian or breast cancer. The Cancer Risk Assessment Program is a joint program between Levine Cancer Institute and the Clinical Genetics Program.

A carefully chosen team of physicians, genetic counselors, nurses and support counselors assist patients, their families, and referring physicians regarding cancer risk factors and recommendations for care. The initial consultation is performed by a certified genetic counselor that verifies the patient's family medical history and estimates the risk. If indicated, consultation with one of the gynecologic oncologists is available.

Support Services

Addressing the whole person (mind, body and spirit) is a mission of Levine Cancer Institute throughout one's journey with cancer. As part of this, we offer individual counseling, support groups and educational programs. A number of patient support programs ("The Teal Magnolias") are dedicated to our cancer patients. For more information on support services, please contact Meg Turner at 704-355-7283.

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