Gynecologic oncologists are trained OB/GYNs, or obstetricians-gynecologists, who receive additional training in the detection and treatment of cancer, particularly cancer of women and their reproductive organs. Gynecologic oncologists treat cancer of the ovaries, uterus, cervix, vagina, endometrium and vulva. Treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Some gynecologic oncologists, as trained OB/GYNs, also have general OB/GYN practices and treat patients without cancer as well. Because gynecologic oncologists are trained as OB/GYNs, as oncologists and as surgeons, they can provide comprehensive care to women, from diagnosis through treatment and aftercare.
Education & Training
After obtaining an undergraduate degree and attending four years of medical school, aspiring gynecologic oncologists must complete a residency in obstetrics and gynecology, typically a four-year program. They then receive further training, usually through a fellowship — usually three years — accredited by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, in gynecological oncology. Training includes surgical procedures such as laparotomies, which involve large abdominal incisions to gain access to the abdominal cavity and women’s reproductive organs. Gynecologic oncologists often are the first line of defense against female cancers like ovarian cancer, and the OB/GYN oncologist usually directs other health care professionals — such as a chemotherapist — in the overall care of a patient’s cancer.
The median salary for a gynecologic oncologist in the U.S. is $413,500, according to 2009 data provided by the Physician Compensation Survey, conducted by the American Medical Group Association. The Medical Careers Guide website places the average salary at $406,000. The website About Medical Schools reports a 2011 average salary of $356,756 for gynecologic oncologists.
Residents are paid modest salaries both during their OB/GYN residencies and during their fellowship training. Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, for instance, pays resident salaries in 2011-2012 of $53,000, $55,000, $58,000 and $60,600 during the four years of training typically associated with an OB/GYN residency. If an OB/GYN chooses to go on to become a gynecologic oncologist, Baystate pays a salary of $63,100 — which is equivalent to the fifth year of residency training — during the first year of the fellowship, $65,700 during a fellowship’s second year, $68,300 during the third year and $70,800 during the fourth year, if necessary, which actually is the eight-year residency salary.
Salaries by Region
The Medical Careers Guide reports an average salary of $413,500 for gynecologic oncologists in the North, $422,150 in the East and $374,384 in the West. Salary data for the South was unavailable.
Becoming a faculty member at a medical college and teaching is another option for qualified gynecologic oncologists. As of December 2010, the University of Texas’s MD Anderson Medical Center employs associate and full professors at salaries ranging from $246,503 to $432,019. These faculty members are gynecologic oncologists.
The American Medical Group Association’s Physician Compensation Survey lists a median salary of $209,565 for family-practice physicians specializing in obstetrics, $232,075 for gynecologists, $275,152 for OB/GYNs, $320,907 for hematology and medical oncology specialists, $275,152 for obstetricians, $212,577 for pediatric hematologists/oncologists, $394,121 for perinatologists and $317,312 for reproductive endocrinologists.