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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Through respectful, attentive and compassionate care, Massey’s cancer care team builds healing relationships with you that help reduce suffering from cancer.
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. We also specialize in robotic surgery for staging and treating certain gynecological cancers. The da Vinci robotic platform allows the surgeon to perform complex laparoscopic surgeries with the benefits of a 3D, high definition camera and robotic arms that allow for more precise control and fine movements. For patients who are candidates for minimally invasive surgery, the benefits include shorter hospital stays, faster postoperative recovery and lower rates of postoperative complications.
Additionally, we follow an Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol in our care of patients before, during and after surgery. Through ERAS, our patients are actively involved in their own recovery process. Components of the program are:
- Pain management. Each patient has a personalized pain management plan designed to limit the use of opioids (narcotics)
- Early mobility and feeding. We help our patients begin to move and eat as soon after surgery as possible
- Fluid management. We provide our patients with only as much IV fluid as they need to prevent fluid overload and bloating after surgery
Following ERAS helps our patients recover faster, leave the hospital sooner and have fewer complications following surgery.
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.
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.
Your gynecologic oncology team also includes:
- Heidi Miller, RN, OCN, oncology-certified nurse navigator
- Dakota Clemmons, RN
- Marcie Templeton, gynecologic oncology administrative assistant
Massey's medical oncologists are 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.
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.
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.
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
• , 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
• Legal assistance for qualifying patients in need
• Lodging for qualifying patients in need
• 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
• 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
or call: 804-828-9080