What is a gynecologic oncologist?

A gynecologic oncologist is a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology who by virtue of education and training is prepared to provide comprehensive management of patients with gynecologic cancer including the diagnostic and therapeutic procedures necessary for the total care of the patient with gynecologic cancer. Gynecologic oncologists also are involved in research studies and clinical trials that are aimed at finding more effective treatments to further advance the treatment of gynecologic cancer and improve cure rates.

To become a gynecologic oncologist in the United States, a physician must first complete an approved 4-year residency program in obstetrics and gynecology. Following this, he must complete a 3-4 year clinical fellowship in an approved gynecologic oncology training program. The additional years in a fellowship program provide the training needed for the optimal care of women with gynecologic cancer.

Advanced surgical techniques are taught during fellowship as well as training in the administration of chemotherapy and placement of brachytherapy devices for radiation therapy. After completing a fellowship, the gynecologic oncologist may practice in his specialty. To become board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, an eligible candidate must pass a written and oral examination.

Studies have demonstrated that women treated by a gynecologic oncologist have a better likelihood of prolonged survival. Due to their extensive training and expertise, gynecologic oncologists can coordinate all aspects of a woman’s cancer care and recovery. Gynecologic oncologists understand the impact of cancer and its treatments on women’s lives including future childbearing, sexuality and physical and emotional well-being as well as the impact on the family.