Gynecologic cancers treatment - VCU Massey Cancer Center

VCU Massey Cancer Center

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Gynecologic oncology at Massey

VCU Massey Cancer Center’s gynecologic oncology team provides comprehensive care for ovarian, fallopian tube, primary peritoneal, uterine, cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers as well as gestational trophoblastic disease and many premalignant conditions of the female genital tract. Additionally, we provide care to women at increased genetic risk for these cancers. 

  • Overview

    Comprehensive, advanced care for gynecologic cancers

    VCU Massey Cancer Center is here to help if you or your loved one has been diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer.

    Massey features an award-winning medical team dedicated to caring for patients with cancers of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, primary peritoneum, uterus, cervix, vagina and vulva and with gestational trophoblastic disease. We offer a level of cancer expertise and experience only found at the top 4 percent of cancer centers across the country recognized as a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. Massey is the only center in the Richmond area, and one of only two in Virginia, designated by the NCI to lead and shape America’s cancer research efforts.

    Massey’s cancer care is provided through VCU Health at VCU Medical Center, which was recognized as the No. 1 hospital in Virginia by U.S. News & World Report (2012, 2013 and 2015). 

     

    Hallmarks of Massey’s cancer care

    Choose VCU Massey Cancer Center for your gynecologic cancer care because we are:

    Cutting-edge
    Our doctors have unparalleled knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating all types of gynecologic cancers. As sub-specialists in gynecologic oncology, they are specifically trained in and dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the female reproductive organs.

    Comprehensive 
    Massey offers a full range of treatment options and scope of care, from prevention and diagnosis to treatment, recovery and long-term survivorship. We provide expert care for patients with ovarian, fallopian tube, primary peritoneal, uterine, cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers and gestational trophoblastic disease. Furthermore, you have access to clinical trials testing new and promising treatments that are only available at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers like Massey. Additionally, Massey offers comprehensive support services that help minimize your symptoms and side effects and help you cope with the cognitive, emotional and psychological effects of cancer.

    Massey also offers care for women at increased genetic risk for gynecologic cancers. Furthermore, we provide genetic counseling to women with ovarian or endometrial cancer who may have a family history of cancer or who are concerned about inherited risk. Our Familial Cancer Clinic – the only one of its kind in the Richmond region – offers information, genetic testing and guidance about the inheritable risk of gynecologic cancers so that informed choices can be made and treatment can be personalized. 

    Collaborative
    Cancer care generally requires multiple forms of therapy and various specialized doctors. At Massey, our specialists collaborate in interdisciplinary teams to coordinate all aspects and stages of patient care and conveniently provide that care in one location. Massey pioneered the multidisciplinary approach to cancer care in our region. This approach combines the expertise of many doctors and ensures that you will receive the ideal combination and sequence of treatment.

    Customized
    Recognizing that each patient is unique and each type of cancer is different, Massey provides treatment strategies and care plans tailored and individualized to you.

    Compassionate
    Through respectful, attentive and compassionate care, Massey’s cancer care team builds healing relationships with you that help reduce suffering from cancer.

    Care center locations

    VCU Massey Cancer Center – MCV Campus:
    VCU Medical Center, North Hospital                        
    Dalton Oncology Clinic (Ground floor & Basement) & Radiation Oncology Clinic (Basement)
    1300 E. Marshall St.
    (Corner of Marshall Street & College Avenue)
    Richmond, VA 23298
    Phone: (804) 828-9992 Dalton Oncology
    Phone: (804) 828-7232 Radiation Oncology

    Free valet parking is available for outpatient cancer visits at the entrance to North Hospital. Self-parking is available in the Patient and Visitor Parking Deck ($2) at 529 N. 12th St. (at the corner of 12th and Leigh Streets).

    VCU Health at Stony Point – Women’s Health Clinic:
    9000 Stony Point Parkway
    Richmond, VA 23235
    Phone: (804) 828-9165

    Free self-parking is conveniently located at the Stony Point clinics. 

    To make an appointment at either location, please call 804-828-9080.

  • Treatment

    Advanced, comprehensive treatment options

    VCU Massey Cancer Center offers the most effective medical and surgical treatments for gynecologic cancers, including state-of-the-art approaches such as targeted therapies. Additionally, you have the opportunity to enroll in clinical trials testing new and promising therapies that are only available at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers like Massey.

    Different kinds and combinations of treatment are possible, depending on the type of cancer and the stage at which it is diagnosed. Possible treatments include:

    Surgery – Our gynecologists have unique and specialized training in the surgical management of cancers of the female genital tract. The quality of your surgery impacts the entire course of your cancer treatment. Massey offers a full range of radical and minimally invasive surgical treatments for ovarian, fallopian tube, primary peritoneal, uterine, cervical, vaginal, vulvar cancers and premalignant gynecologic conditions. The type of surgery is individualized to each patient. With traditional “open” surgery, the surgeon uses one large incision to perform a procedure. With laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon makes several small incisions and inserts small tools – including a video camera – to perform the procedure. For patients who are candidates for minimally invasive surgery, the benefits include shorter hospital stays, faster postoperative recovery and lower rates of postoperative complications.

    Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy drugs are usually injected or given by mouth and are used to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. Some women may have chemotherapy before or after surgery. The chemotherapy experts on our team have years of experience managing gynecologic cancers.

    Clinical trials – Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment or device is safe and effective, and they also may show which medical approaches work best for certain illnesses or groups of people. Massey offers a wide range of clinical trials for both newly diagnosed and relapsed patients, including some trials that are not found elsewhere. Our trials test new anti-cancer therapies and ways to minimize common cancer-related symptoms. These trials provide access to investigational agents and innovative, new therapies that may help increase the chance for successful treatment.

    Hormone therapy – Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of cancer that uses hormones to grow. Hormone therapy may be used for women who cannot have surgery or radiation therapy, or it may be used in combination with other types of treatment. Hormone therapy may be given orally as a pill, by injection or through the surgical removal of the ovaries, which produce hormones.

    Radiation therapy – Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading. Radiation therapy is used in the treatment of many gynecologic cancers including cervical, endometrial, vulvar, vaginal and ovarian.  It can be delivered after surgery to destroy any cancer cells remaining in the area, before surgery to shrink the tumor or in place of surgery, and is often combined with chemotherapy. The most common type of radiation treatment is called external beam radiation therapy, which is radiation given from a machine outside the body. The other type is internal radiation treatment known as brachytherapy, which is delivered by a source that is placed inside of the body. Our radiation oncologists are experts in both types of radiotherapy and customize the treatments to each of our patients.

    Targeted therapies / precision medicine – Targeted cancer therapies are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules (“molecular targets”) that are involved in the growth, progression and spread of cancer. Targeted therapies are the foundation of precision medicine, a form of medicine that uses information about a person’s genes and proteins to prevent, diagnose and treat disease. An example of a targeted therapy for gynecologic cancers recently approved by the FDA is olaparib. It is a PARP inhibitor, inhibiting poly ADP ribose polymerase, an enzyme involved in DNA repair, and olaparib is approved for germline BRCA mutated advanced ovarian cancer. 

  • Specialists

    Leading experts in gynecologic cancers

    Your medical team at VCU Massey Cancer Center has a depth and breadth of expertise and experience that is specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic malignancies. These specialists collaborate in a multidisciplinary team, which offers you the advantage of one-stop consultations and highly coordinated care. Many of our doctors are also researchers who continually investigate new and better treatment options and are exploring ways to improve the patient care experience. And as Massey is part of a university medical center, our doctors are also professors, educating and training oncologists and other health care professionals. The treatment, study and teaching of gynecologic cancers position our doctors as the leading experts in the field.

     

    Select from the list below to learn more about your care team and their education, training and specific areas of clinical expertise.

    Gynecologic oncology

    Weldon Chafe, M.D. Sarah Temkin, M.D., director

    Massey’s gynecologic oncologists are faculty in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology within the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the VCU School of Medicine at VCU Health.

    In addition to the physicians, your gynecologic oncology team also includes:

    • Melissa Foster, NP, OCN, oncology-certified nurse practitioner
    • Heidi Miller, RN, OCN, oncology-certified nurse navigator
    • Deena Casey, RN, registered nurse
    • Marcie Templeton, gynecologic oncology administrative assistant

    Medical oncology

    Sarah Gordon, D.O. William McGuire, M.D.

    McGuire is on faculty in the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care within the Department of Internal Medicine of the VCU School of Medicine at VCU Health.

    Radiation oncology

    Emma Fields, M.D.

    Fields is on faculty in the Department of Radiation Oncology of the VCU School of Medicine at VCU Health.

    Pathology

    Joseph Jakowski, M.D. Steven Smith, M.D., Ph.D.

    Massey’s pathologists are faculty in the Department of Pathology of the VCU School of Medicine at VCU Health.

    Radiology

    Ann Fulcher, M.D.

    Fulcher is the chair of the Department of Radiology of the VCU School of Medicine at VCU Health.

    Additional medical team members

    Others who may be part of your health care team include attending and resident physicians, fellows, palliative care specialists, nurses, genetic counselors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists, chaplains, nutritionists, care partners, clerks and other specialists as needed.

    To connect with our gynecologic oncology team, please call us at 804-828-9080.

  • Research

    Life-saving discoveries

    At VCU Massey Cancer Center, you’ll have access to the most cutting-edge therapies and the latest technologies. Some of these therapies were discovered and developed right here at Massey. 

    For example, Massey medical oncologist William McGuire, M.D., was instrumental in the development of paclitaxel as part of the standard of care for advanced ovarian cancer. He is currently working to develop investigational approaches for the treatment of both ovarian and endometrial malignancies. He collaborates with Massey physicians and researchers to translate preclinical discoveries involving new drugs or combinations of existing drugs into clinical trials.

    Additionally, Massey gynecologic oncologist Sarah Temkin, M.D., has worked on various research projects investigating health services and cancer care delivery as it relates to gynecologic malignancies. She has multiple publications on disparities in the receipt of care in the United States. Recently, her research has focused on improving access to clinical trials for all gynecologic cancer patients including the elderly and underrepresented minorities.

    Learn more about the research Massey is conducting to improve the prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship of gynecologic cancers. 

    Clinical trials currently available at Massey for gynecologic cancers

    Clinical trials are research studies that help find new and better ways to prevent, diagnose, treat and cure diseases. With one of the largest menus of cancer clinical trials in Virginia, Massey offers patients expanded treatment options and new hope every day.

    The following are the clinical trials currently available at Massey for gynecologic cancers:

    ANZGOG-0902-GOG-0274 – Phase 3 trial, “The OUTBACK Trial”: Cisplatin and Radiation Therapy With or Without Carboplatin and Paclitaxel in Patients With Locally Advanced Cervical Cancer

    EAY131 – Phase 2 trial, “NCI-Match – Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice”: Targeted Therapy Directed by Genetic Testing in Treating Patients with Advanced Refractory Solid Tumors, Lymphomas or Multiple Myeloma

    GOG-0225 – Phase 3 randomized trial, Can Diet and Physical Activity Improve Progression-Free Survival of Patients with Previously Treated Stage II, III or IV Ovarian, Fallopian Tube and Primary Peritoneal Cancer?

    GOG-3005 – Phase 3 randomized trial, Placebo-Controlled Study of Carboplatin/Paclitaxel With or Without Concurrent and Continuation Maintenance Veliparib (PARP inhibitor) in Patients with Previously Untreated Stages III or IV High-Grade Serous Epithelial Ovarian, Fallopian Tube or Primary Peritoneal Cancer

    GOG-9929 – Phase 1 trial, Chemoradiation Therapy and Ipilimumab in Treating Patients With Locally Advanced Cervical Cancer

    HLMCC-18207 – Phase 2 trial, Dose Dense (Weekly) Paclitaxel with Pembrolizumab (MK-3475) in Platinum Resistant Recurrent Ovarian Cancer

    MCC-13-09812 – Phase 1 trial, Regorafenib and Sildenafil for Advanced Solid Tumors

    MCC-16-12876 – Improving Symptom Self-management in Adolescents & Young Adults With Cancer

    NRG-CC001 – Phase 3 randomized trial, Memantine and Whole-Brain Radiotherapy With or Without Hippocampal Avoidance in Reducing Neurocognitive Decline in Patients with Brain Metastases

    NRG-GY004 – Phase 3 randomized trial, Comparing Single-Agent Olaparib or the Combination of Cediranib and Olaparib to Standard Platinum-Based Chemotherapy in Women with Recurrent Platinum-Sensitive Ovarian, Fallopian Tube or Primary Peritoneal Cancer

    OVA-7 – Phase 2 randomized trial, Weekly Gemcitabine Plus Pazopanib versus Weekly Gemcitabine Alone in the Treatment of Patients with Persistent or Relapsed Epithelial Ovarian, Fallopian Tube or Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma

    Two of these studies, MCC-13-09812 and MCC-16-12876, were developed at Massey and are based on science conducted here by our researchers.

    Discuss with your doctor whether a clinical trial is right for you.

    To learn more about any of the trials listed above, please call us at 804-828-9080.

    For a full list of clinical research studies currently open at Massey, search our database of clinical trials.

  • Resources

    Support services

    At VCU Massey Cancer Center, we believe that treating the whole person, not just the disease, is the best way to care for patients and family members coping with cancer. We take a holistic approach to address not just your medical and physical needs, but also your psychological, emotional and social needs. We offer comprehensive cancer support services to care for you throughout your cancer journey that range from helping minimize symptoms and side effects to helping evaluate and cope with the emotional and psychological effects of cancer. These services include:

    Communication assistance, including language translation services, text and amplified telephones for the hearing impaired, sign language and cued speech interpreters

    Integrative health resources, including acupressure, art therapy, music therapy, pet therapy and tobacco cessation counseling. Complementary therapies are not substitutes for medical care but are used together with medical treatments to help patients alleviate stress and anxiety, reduce pain, manage symptoms and promote a feeling of well-being.

    Financial assistance for qualifying patients in need

    Genetic counseling by board-certified genetic counselors in Richmond’s only Familial Cancer Clinic

    Healing garden

    Legal assistance for qualifying patients in need

    Lodging for qualifying patients in need

    Nutritionists

    Palliative care by an international award-winning team for the management of pain and symptoms, including an outpatient Supportive Care Clinic

    Patient education, including libraries and health programming geared to cancer patients and their caregivers

    Pharmacy services, including in-hospital oncology pharmacies

    Psychological counseling - ask your nurse for more information

    Rehabilitation by one of the nation’s longest-running cancer rehabilitation programs with physical, occupational and speech therapy especially geared for cancer patients

    Spiritual counseling

    Social work for patients in need

    Support groups

    Transportation assistance for qualifying patients in need – ask your social worker for more information

    Wig salons that provide free hats, scarves and wigs as well as private head-wear consultation services

    Learn more about our patient resources and integrative medicine

Make an appointment online

or call: 804-828-9080

Patient Stories

At just 36 years old, Keisha Harris’ health was bleak. Medical professionals in Hawaii told her that she had only 2-6 weeks left to live. Stage 4 cervical cancer that had spread to her liver and spinal cord, and countless surgeries and radiation therapy, left her bleeding internally in excess of one pint per day. But nearly 5 years after an extremely rare procedure performed by surgeons at VCU Massey Cancer Center, she is fully recovered, feels great and looks bravely forward to a positive future, grateful to have overcome the greatest challenge she has ever encountered.

Clinical trials

Find a clinical trial for a gynecologic cancer

Learn more: