Treatment

Gynaecological cancer can be treated in a number of ways, or a combination of:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy
  • brachytherapy (a form of internal radiotherapy for womb and cervical cancer only)

The type of treatment you will require depends on what gynaecological cancer you have.

Surgery for patients with a gynaecological cancer can be given in Antrim Area Hospital or more specialist surgery can be provided at the Belfast City Hospital. Chemotherapy for gynaecological cancer is only given in the Cancer Centre at the Belfast City Hospital. Radiotherapy is only given in the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital.

Your doctors will tell you about the benefits, risks and side-effects of the treatments being offered.

Each person is different and your surgery and/or treatment will be tailored to your needs and discussed fully with you before proceeding. Throughout your care, procedures, surgery and treatment will not be carried without your consent.

Cervical cancer

Surgery is often the main treatment for women with early-stage cancer of the cervix. If a patient is to have surgery to treat their cervical cancer they may undergo a laparoscopic radical trachelectomy (a type of surgery the cervix and the upper part of the vagina are removed, but the rest of the uterus (womb) is left in place) or a laparoscopic radical hysterectomy (surgeon removes the whole uterus, tissue on the sides of the uterus, the cervix, and the top part of the vagina).

Sometimes radiotherapy may also be given after surgery if there is a risk that cancer cells may have been left behind. This helps reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
This radiotherapy is often given in combination with chemotherapy treatment for larger tumours of the cervix. This is known as chemoradiation.

For more information on treatment of cervical cancer, please visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website.

Ovarian cancer

Surgery is the main treatment used to treat ovarian cancer. It may be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy.

The aim of surgery is to completely remove the cancer. The type of surgery performed will depend on the type, stage and size of the cancer and whether it has spread.

For more information on treatment of ovarian cancer, please visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website. 

Vulval cancer

Surgery is the main treatment of vulval cancer. This form of cancer treatment aims to remove the cancer tumour and the non-cancerous surrounding cells. At the same time the surgeon will try, as far as possible, to preserve the appearance and function of the vulva.

Different operations can be used to treat vulval cancer. The type of operation a patient will have depends on the size and position of the cancer.

Many women are cured of their vulval cancer with surgery alone; however some women may need radiotherapy or chemotherapy after their operation.

For more information on treatment of vulval cancer, please visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website. 

Vaginal cancer

Vaginal cancer occurs very rarely. Radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy may be used to treat vaginal cancer. You may have one, or a combination, of these treatments.

For more information on treatment of vaginal cancer, please visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website. 

Womb (Endometrial) cancer

Surgery is the main treatment used to treat womb cancer. Many women are cured of their womb cancer with surgery. It may be used alone or in combination with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The aim of surgery is to completely take away the cancer.

For more information on treatment of womb cancer, please visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website. 

After treatment

After treatment is completed, patients will have regular check-ups. These are very important for the surgeon or oncologist to monitor patient progress.

This continues for years, with follow-up appointments with your gynaecologist and/or oncologist.

Patients experiencing worrying symptoms that they think may be related to their cancer should get in touch with their GP or consultant as soon as possible.