Med School/Year Graduated: University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas, 2002
Years in Practice: 4
Who or what inspired you to enter the field of gynecologic oncology?
My decision to pursue specialty training in gynecologic oncology came largely from my interaction with patients. As a resident, the women I treated who were dealing with gynecologic malignancies profoundly impacted me. It is not often that you feel like you receive as much as you give in medicine. When I had this sense of satisfaction and balance, I knew I found what I was meant to do.
How common is cervical cancer and what are the warning signs?
Cervical cancer is the most common gynecologic malignancy worldwide, and affects approximately 12,000 women in the United States every year. Regular gynecologic examinations are essential in prevention. If a woman experiences abnormal vaginal or persistent vaginal discharge, she should see her physician for further evaluation.
What about ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer affects approximately 20,000 American women per year. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms are nonspecific, which often leads to a delay in diagnosis. Some common symptoms are pelvic and/or back pain, bloating, feeling full quickly, and changes in bowel or bladder habits. Knowing your family members affected by cancer, and discussing this with your doctor can determine if you should be tested for genetic or inherited abnormalities that may predispose you to getting cancer.
“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be...”
An author. From a very young age, I shared with my family that I wanted to be a doctor or an author. It is funny because these are such different career paths, but I still feel like one day I will write a book.
What are the biggest misconceptions about your field?
That everyone is very sick and everyone will die. As gynecologic oncologists, we have far more positive outcomes than negative. Oncology means you have cancer; it is not necessarily a death sentence. Because our understanding of malignancies continues to grow, we can often discuss risk factors and cancer prevention with our patients, their families, and the community.