Surgery is the most common way to treat most gynecologic cancers, although your doctor may recommend a different treatment option first.
Learn more about cancer surgery.
Cervical cancer surgery
There are a number of surgical options for cervical cancer. Cryotherapy uses very cold temperatures to freeze and kill cancer cells while laser surgery can be used to burn off abnormal cells found in the cervix. A hysterectomy, either simple (removing the uterus and cervix) or radical (removing the uterus, tissues next to the uterus and the upper part of the vagina next to the cervix) is a treatment course as well. The ovaries and fallopian tubes are not removed as part of cervical cancer surgery.
Endometrial cancer surgery
Surgery is often the main treatment for endometrial cancer, involving removal of the uterus and possibly the cervix. Often the removal of one, or both, fallopian tubes and ovaries is needed as well as removal of lymph nodes. In some cases, pelvic washings are done in which the abdominal cavity is flooded with saline, and if the cancer has spread, your surgeon will do a debulking procedure to remove as much cancer as possible.
Ovarian cancer surgery
Surgery is the best treatment for most ovarian cancers. Goals of ovarian cancer surgery are to see how the cancer has spread and to remove as much of the cancer/tumor as possible. For women who want to preserve the option of having children, early detection and treatment may make it possible to avoid removal of both ovaries and the uterus.
It’s recommended that your surgery be performed by a gynecologic oncologist, a specialist in the treatment and surgical removal of ovarian cancer, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer (cancer found in the cells that cover the surface of the ovary).
Uterine cancer surgery
Surgery is the main treatment for uterine sarcoma. In a simple hysterectomy, the whole uterus and the cervix are removed, and the surrounding tissue is left intact. In a radical hysterectomy, the uterus, tissues next to the uterus and the upper part of the vagina next to the cervix are removed. The ovaries and fallopian tubes are often removed as part of uterine cancer surgery. Your doctor may also do surgery to see if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in your pelvis, which may require other types of treatment after surgery.
Vaginal cancer surgery
Surgery is not usually the recommended treatment option for vaginal cancer. Vaginal surgery may be recommended when cancer is detected early, but most typically it’s done when radiation therapy is unsuccessful in treating all the cancer.
Vulvar cancer surgery
Surgical options vary for women diagnosed with vulvar cancer. This type of surgery can significantly impact a woman’s sexuality and quality of life. The earlier vulvar cancer is detected and treated, the less invasive surgery will need to be. The goal is to leave as much healthy tissue as possible, but when cancer is more advanced, extensive procedures, like a vulvectomy, may be necessary.
After a vulvectomy, surgery may be used to reconstruct your genitalia using your own skin and underlying fatty tissue.