Gynecologic malignancies in older women

Ramin Mirhashemi, Wilberto Nieves-Neira, Hervy E. Averette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The aging of the population is a social phenomenon that will present a challenge to clinical practice in the 21st century. Women constitute a majority of the elderly population as they outlive males by 5 to 7 years. Ovarian, endometrial, and vulvar cancers are diseases seen more commonly in postmenopausal and elderly women. Cervical cancer continues to be a significant problem in the elderly and is usually detected at a later stage in that population than in younger patients. Accordingly, primary care clinicians ought to possess a thorough knowledge of gynecologic malignancies and should refer women who present with these disorders to a gynecologic oncologist. Ovarian cancer patients treated by a gynecologic oncologist are more likely to undergo proper surgical staging, leading to optimal debulking surgery and improved survival. Age, by itself, should not alter the diagnostic and therapeutic approach to gynecologic malignancy. Elderly patients can safely undergo radical pelvic surgery. Multi-agent chemotherapy is also possible in the elderly without excess morbidity, and without compromise of response rates. Radiation therapy for cervical cancer appears to be as effective and is generally well tolerated. The Papanicolaou (Pap) test continues to be the primary screening tool for cervical cancer. Although transvaginal ultrasound seems to be useful in detecting early-stage ovarian cancer, its cost effectiveness for screening the general population remains to be demonstrated. The main considerations in the treatment of ovarian, endometrial, cervical, and vulvar cancer are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-586
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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