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"Who is referred to a gynecologic oncologist consultation?"


I was just diagnosed with early ovarian cancer. Will I need a gynecological oncologist consultation?


Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can be very stressful. As you indicate, oncology is the branch of medicine that deals with treating cancer so you will undoubtedly be referred to an oncologist. Treating ovarian cancer will often involve multiple oncologists.

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Gynecology-oncologists are GYN-trained physicians who then complete further surgical training for the surgical treatment of gynecological tumors (ovarian, uterine, cervical etc). The primary treatment for many GYN cancers, including many ovarian cancers, does involve surgery so you will need to be seen and evaluated by a surgeon (the gyn-onc team). However, chemotherapy is also often a part of treating many cancers--including ovarian cancer--and this kind of treatment and management is usually provided by medical oncologists (non-surgeons) who specialize in gynecologic cancers. A diagnosis of early ovarian cancer may involve treatment with both surgery and chemotherapy, so you will likely be working with two different oncologists who will also work with each other to make sure that chemotherapy and surgery are coordinated at the right time. You should feel to discuss all of these possibilities with your primary care physician (or the physician who helped identify the tumor). Cancer is a very difficult diagnosis and because of the complexity of dealing with different treatment options, you may want to pursue evaluation at an academic Cancer Center where all of these specialists will be working in the same place.

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