Gynecologic (Women’s) Cancer

Types of Gynecologic Cancer

Gynecologic cancer is cancer that affects the reproductive organs in women. It includes:

  • Uterine cancer (also called endometrial cancer)
  • Ovarian cancer (including fallopian tube and peritoneal cancers)
  • Cervical cancer (cancer of the cervix, which is the tissue connecting the uterus and vagina)
  • Vulvar cancer (cancer of the vulva, which is the outside, or external genitalia)
  • Successfully treating these types of women’s cancer involves a multidisciplinary approach requiring exceptional high-level medical and surgical expertise. At the Lahey Health Cancer Institute, you will find both.

Comprehensive, Quality Women’s Cancer Care

LHCI has successfully united a network of outstanding providers of cancer care in northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Our care delivery is marked by team collaboration and coordination.

Our comprehensive care carries through all phases of treatment, assuring you of the seamless, integrated care you need and deserve. We offer an unparalleled breadth and depth of gynecologic cancer services across a broad geographic area. This allows you to receive care from knowledgeable, experienced providers who are experts in their field, right in your community, without having to journey far from home.

As our patient satisfaction surveys support, the Lahey Health Cancer Institute enjoys a regional reputation for providing convenience, quality care focused on clinical excellence, a personal touch, and patient involvement. This success has established LHCI as a regional leader in cancer care.


Lahey Health is accredited as a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology by the Surgical Review Corporation, which is focused on improving the safety and quality of patient care. All of the radiation therapy sites within the Lahey Health system are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR), which ensures quality and safety in patient care.

Gynecologic Cancer Services & Treatment

The Lahey Health Cancer Institute (LHCI) offers a full range of women’s cancer services – from screening to early detection and diagnosis, from treatment to follow-up, from clinical research to survivorship. Our experienced, professional, highly trained, and caring providers are here for you, working as a team to beat your cancer.

LHCI is committed to bringing our premier medical and surgical services and renowned expertise right to your community, to make your care as convenient for you as possible. We know that dealing with cancer is hard enough without having to travel far for treatment. For every woman with a new diagnosis of cancer, the multidisciplinary team of experts on our Gynecology Tumor Board sits together to review her case and develop a personalized and comprehensive treatment plan. Learn more about our Tumor Boards.

Our Scope of Gynecologic Cancer Care

We treat all types of cancer affecting a woman’s reproductive system – uterine (endometrial) cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, cancer of the vagina. Our multidisciplinary team is part of Lahey Health’s extensive cancer program, where you will find the highest level of cancer care that leads to our excellent outcomes.

Among our leading-edge procedures for gynecologic cancers are robotic assisted laparoscopic surgery with sentinel node biopsy for uterine cancer, and cytoreductive surgery combined with heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) for ovarian cancer (also called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy). These techniques have shown significant success in treating cancer that in the past was difficult to manage.

We also perform in-house genomic testing, and we are especially skilled at treating women who are considered to be at higher risk due to certain medical conditions or complicating factors.

Wide Range of Services

Learn more about LHCI’s gynecologic cancer services and treatments:
Screening & Diagnosis

The Lahey Health Cancer Institute (LHCI) provides state-of-the-art methods of diagnosing and staging women’s cancers at convenient locations north of Boston. Detecting cancer at its earliest stage offers the best long-term prognosis, so early detection is an important goal.

Screening Techniques

Our gynecologic cancer specialists offer screening for human papilloma virus (HPV) and Pap smear evaluation, including second opinions. We perform colposcopy, a diagnostic procedure to closely examine your cervix and the surrounding tissue to look for cancerous and precancerous cell changes.

We also assess women who may be at higher risk for hereditary female cancer, such as ovarian cancer, due to ovarian cysts, family history and other factors.

A genetic mutation can increase your risk for developing cancer of the uterus (endometrial cancer) or the ovary. We can screen you for this and guide you in strategies to help reduce your risk.

If Cancer Is Confirmed

If your test results show cancer, be assured that you will not be in it alone. We will pair you with a patient navigator to help guide you through treatment decisions and survivorship. We will support you, educate you, and treat you according to best practices and the highest clinical standards.

Ovarian Cancer Risk Assessment

The risk for breast and ovarian cancer is not the same for all women. Some women need more advanced screening beyond the standard recommendations. But it’s not always clear who may be at higher risk.

To meet this challenge, Lahey Health has introduced a computerized Risk Assessment Screening Tool to help physicians more accurately determine their patients’ risk for breast and ovarian cancer. The earlier cancer is found, the greater the chance of successful treatment. This new tool helps women and their doctors determine what level of screening is best for them.

With our Risk Assessment Screening Tool, you use an electronic tablet at the time of your mammography appointment at a Lahey Health imaging center to confidently answer questions about your health and family history. Your doctor then sees a summary that calculates your five-year and lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer, using nationally recognized risk models.

The doctor can then use this information to decide if you might benefit from a higher level of screening beyond regular checkups and mammograms.

Genetic Counseling

Lahey Health has a robust Familial Cancer and Hereditary Risk Assessment program that is staffed by certified genetics counselors for all types of cancer. If you are at higher risk because of your family history, we can provide guidance on how to manage your risk.

Medical Oncology

Medical oncology is where some of the greatest advances in survivorship are happening. Today’s systemic treatments for female cancer are so much more than chemotherapy. For many women traditional chemotherapy can be avoided with a variety of hormonal approaches and other targeted therapies.

At the Lahey Health Cancer Institute (LHCI), our medical oncology treatments for uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, and other female cancers are evidence-based, cutting-edge therapies. We send tumor samples for genomic testing, so we can identify targeted treatments to defeat cancer at its very core – the molecular level.

What many women say is the biggest advantage is the ability to have these innovative medical oncology treatments right in their own communities. It’s the same comprehensive, complex, state-of-the art care delivered at city hospitals – but it’s available right here, close to home.


Today’s chemotherapy drugs are more effective than ever before. Most chemotherapy regimens have fewer side effects, and if side effects do occur, we have treatments to help manage them.The chemotherapy units throughout the Lahey Health are designed to enhance patient comfort and ease of treatment. Family members or friends may stay with you while you are receiving chemotherapy. Many of our locations provide free television service and free WiFi.

Chemotherapy treatment at LHCI reflects the Oncology Care Model (OCM) designed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in which we provide a wide variety of special support services for patients receiving chemotherapy. Learn more about OCM.

Molecular-Targeted Therapies

Molecular-targeted cancer therapies are drugs or other substances that block the spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth. It includes drugs that:

  • Interfere with the signals needed for cell growth or the blood vessels that feed a tumor
  • Promote the death of specific cancer cells
  • Stimulate the immune system to destroy specific cancer cells
  • Deliver toxic drugs to cancer cells
  • Targeted drugs can be used to address cancer cells with a certain genetic makeup. Because every cancer is unique, we will analyze the genetic makeup of your cancer to match you with the most effective targeted treatment for the best possible outcome.

Immunotherapy for gynecologic cancer involves the use of substances made either in the human body or in a laboratory to boost the body’s immune system. The goal is to stimulate your body’s immune system to fight against your particular type of cancer.

Fertility Counseling and Genetic Testing

If you are concerned about how your treatment might affect future plans to have a child, we offer fertility counseling services. We also offer genetic testing for you and family members, to look for certain markers that could help assess risk as well as guide treatments and decision making.

Radiation Therapy

The Lahey Health Cancer Institute (LHCI) offers every possible option for radiation therapy, including leading-edge procedures that can greatly reduce treatment time and side effects.

We are focused on not exposing you to unnecessary radiation, so we are particularly skilled at adapting our services to treat you with the least amount of radiation needed.


Brachytherapy involves meticulously placing small, temporary radiation implants at site of cancerous cells, to kill the cancer with as little impact as possible on nearby healthy cells. At LHCI, this technique can treat cancers affecting the uterus, cervix and vaginal canal.

External Radiation

External radiation, also called external beam radiation, is the most common type of radiation therapy. In this procedure, radiation from a machine outside the body is focused on the area affected by cancer. External radiation is painless and is similar to getting an x-ray, although the radiation beam is stronger.

Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy

Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) uses state-of-the-art linear accelerators to safely and painlessly deliver exact radiation doses to cancerous cells while minimizing the dose to normal tissue. Our radiation oncologists can conform the radiation dose to the shape of a tumor by modulating the radiation beam into smaller beams, which brings a higher dose of radiation where it’s needed most.

Quality and Safety Accreditation

Your safety is very important to us. Some of our quality and safety initiatives for radiation therapy include:

  • Lahey uses the XECAN patient care and safety management system, which is technology that helps ensure the correct treatment of cancer patients.
  • We have an overarching safety program called the Radiation Oncology Safety Initiative (ROSI), which focuses on all aspects of radiation oncology that have an effect on safety.
  • We are members of the Clarity Patient Safety Organization (PSO), which operates the national Radiation Oncology Incident Learning System. By belonging to a national incident-learning database, we are able to compare our experience to that of all other participating institutions in the country, enhancing the potential for discovering significant error-prevention opportunities.
  • All of the radiation therapy sites within the Lahey Health system are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR), which ensures quality and safety in patient care.

If you have been diagnosed with uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, or another type of women’s cancer, you can turn with confidence to the experienced and caring gynecologic cancer surgeons at the Lahey Health Cancer Institute (LHCI).

Today’s techniques are more refined than ever before, and Lahey Health’s surgeons are experts in performing them. They are especially skilled in fertility-sparing procedures and in robotic and minimally invasive techniques that can offer smaller incisions, less pain, and a faster recovery time.

Lahey Health is accredited as a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology by the Surgical Review Corporation, which is focused on improving the safety and quality of patient care.

Fertility-Sparing Surgery

Our gynecologic cancer surgeons have extensive experience in procedures that can successfully treat cancer while preserving a woman’s ability to have children.

One example is trachelectomy, a technique for younger women with early cervical cancer. It involves removing the cervix (the tissue that connects the uterus and vagina) and some surrounding tissue but leaving the rest of the uterus in place. If the woman becomes pregnant, a stitch can be made in the bottom of the uterus to take the place of her cervix.

Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery

Procedures performed by Lahey Health surgeons using the precision of robotic surgery include cancer cases and complex benign cases. Some examples includehysterectomy, and cancer staging. Our surgeons also perform laparoscopic adnexal surgery, a minimally invasive procedure for cancer of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or ovarian cysts.

Leading-Edge Surgery

Among our leading-edge procedures are cytoreductive surgery and heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), also called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy. These techniques have shown significant success in treating cancer that in the past was difficult to manage,

Meet the Gynecologic Cancer Team

At the Lahey Health Cancer Institute (LHCI), you will benefit from an expert gynecologic cancer team with caring and experienced providers. Your care team may include patient navigators, certified oncology nurses, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, cancer surgeons, nurse practitioners, technicians, and technologists, all dedicated to your cancer treatment and well-being. Here we introduce you to the physician specialists on our women’s cancer care teams.

Caroline C. Nitschmann, MD, MS
Caroline C. Nitschmann, MD, MS Gynecologic Oncology Gynecology
Etin-Osa O. Osa, MD
Etin-Osa O. Osa, MD Radiation Oncology
Valena J. Wright, MD
Valena J. Wright, MD Gynecologic Oncology Gynecology