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Do I need to See a Gynecologic Oncologist?

A Q&A with Gynecologic Oncologist Christine Kim, MD


Gynecologic oncologists treat a variety of conditions, even noncancerous ones. To find out if you might need to see this specialist, we spoke with Christine Kim, MD, a board-certified and fellowship-trained gynecologic oncologist with LVPG Gynecologic Oncology, part of Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute. She provides care at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Pocono, LVH–Cedar Crest and LVH–Muhlenberg.

Q: How does a gynecologic oncologist differ from a regular gynecologist?

Christine Kim: Gynecologic oncologists have completed additional fellowship training in managing and treating gynecologic cancers as well as complex gynecologic situations. Gynecologic oncologists are often seen for their expertise in surgical management of gynecologic cancers and difficult pelvic surgeries. We are able to give chemotherapy, enroll patients in clinical trials and perform surgical procedures. We also can take care of gynecologic conditions that aren’t cancerous, such as uterine fibroids, severe endometriosis, and complex ovarian cysts.

Q: When might a woman need to switch from a regular gynecologist to a gynecologic oncologist?

Christine Kim: Your doctor may recommend a visit to me based on your condition, particularly if you have been diagnosed with a cancer or a pre-malignant condition. You may also request an appointment on your own.

As a gynecologic oncologist, I can use my expertise and experience to help distinguish what is potentially cancerous and what is not. I also will work with your gynecologist to determine the best treatment for conditions like complex ovarian masses, abnormal Pap tests or persistent abnormal bleeding.

I like to form a partnership with my gynecology colleagues so that even after I perform the surgery, you can follow up with your regular gynecologist.

Q: What other reason might someone need to see you?

Christine Kim: A woman should see a gynecologic oncologist for further counseling if she has a strong family history of cancers, specifically ovarian, breast, endometrial or colon cancers. A gynecologic oncologist can assess a woman’s risks and discuss whether she’s a candidate for genetic testing, risk-reducing surgery or if she should be followed more closely. I work closely with the genetic counselors so that patients have expert support in understanding what their results mean now and going forward.

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