Gynecologic Oncology vs. Gynecology vs. OB/GYN: Who to See

When dealing with the female reproductive system, precise care and proper diagnosis are a necessity. Whether dealing with abnormal menstrual cycles, trying to get pregnant, or a medical emergency of a reproductive organ, there are numerous specialists in the main field of gynecology to help female patients get the proper care that they need.   

What Is Gynecology?

A gynecologist is a doctor who is an expert in the female reproductive system. They help women deal with fertility issues, STDs, menstrual cycles, and hormonal imbalances. Normally, a woman will begin to see a gynecologist in her early teenage years when she begins her menstrual cycle. The care continues annually during wellness visits for general health and cancer prevention. A gynecologist is certified and registered with a governing organization likethe  American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Many women choose to visit a well-woman clinic to visit their gynecologist instead of seeing a family doctor as their primary care provider. The gynecologist in return can refer the woman to another specialist if needed. 

What Is an OB/GYN?

An obstetrician/gynecologist or OB/GYN is a doctor who specializes in medical and surgical treatment of the female reproductive system. The range of specialization can include pregnancy and childbirth, disorders of the reproductive organs, STI, family counseling, and pap screenings.  With the combination of both titles, OB/GYNs can be a primary care doctor or a consultant. Obstetrics specifically concentrates on prenatal care of women up to, until, and through delivery. 

What Is Gynecological Oncology?

A gynecological oncologist specializes in women’s reproductive health, with additional training in cancers of the reproductive organs. This includes chemotherapy administration and advanced techniques in surgery. The special skills that this type of physician is trained in helping treat cancers in the ovaries, uterus, cervix, and more. It is estimated that approximately 106,000 women are diagnosed annually with a reproductive organ cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. If diagnosed, a gynecological oncologist might implement treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or hormonal or immune therapy.

Who Do You Need to See?

Your individual needs will determine what type of specialist you should see. It should be clear that all of these specialties treat the female reproductive system and medical problems related to it. For a simple infection or an annual exam, a gynecologist will suffice. If you are pregnant and need prenatal care, an OB/GYN is for you.

You should see a gynecological oncologist if you have a strong history of cancers in your family. This is especially true if your family member has had breast, ovarian, colon, or endometrial cancer. The gynecological oncologist can diagnose and present your risks and decide if you are a good candidate for a risk-reducing surgery or genetic counseling/testing, or if you need more frequent monitoring through scheduled appointments. Your regular doctor or OB/GYN may recommend you see a gynecologic oncologist if you have been diagnosed with a precancerous condition or cancer. You can get an appointment on your own, insurance dependent. The surgeons at NVSCC use state-of-the-art surgical techniques to adequately treat conditions with minimally invasive procedures for quicker recovery. We provide genetic counseling and testing for full disclosure of your cancer risks and treatment options. Schedule an appointment today.