Many medical students enter school thinking they’ll specialize in one thing only to change their minds as they learn more about other disciplines. That was true for Dr. Gizelka David-West, Northwell’s newest gynecologic oncologist, who “fell in love” with women’s health in medical school.
Dr. David-West, who came to the U.S. from Nigeria as a child, is part of the Northwell Health Cancer Institute team of specialists at Northern Westchester and Phelps hospitals. Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of gynecological cancers, she brings extensive clinical expertise in treating these cancers with robotic surgery.
“The da Vinci surgical system is a robotic, minimally invasive tool that allows for greater precision and increased dexterity for me as the surgeon,” Dr. David-West said. “Because of this, patients typically experience less pain, recover quicker, and may have lower risk of blood loss and infection.”
Robotic surgery can be avoided with early detection of gynecologic cancers such as cervical, vulvar, uterine/endometrial, vaginal (very rare), and ovarian. Regular screening is important since some cancers have hardly any symptoms (at least to start)—hence cervical cancer being called “the silent killer.”
“The best screening method we have is the combination HPV test and pap test for cervical cancer that is proven to prevent disease,” explained Dr. David-West. “Uterine cancer screening is a clinical evaluation and there is much research being done in early detection methods for ovarian cancer.”
Dr. David-West credits Northwell Health — which emphasizes effort on a multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment — with making a difference.
“When you’re told you have cancer,” said Dr. David-West, “not only do you need cancer treatment, you also need psychosocial and wellness support.”
All of which Northwell Health offers.
“When many people think of gynecology, they think of pap smears, but there is much more to it than that,” added Dr. David-West.
Dr. David-West, a mother of three, doesn’t leave gynecologic oncology at the office, however. As lead singer of the critically acclaimed band N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease), she and bandmates, fellow gynecologic oncologists, are on a mission to increase awareness of gynecologic cancers. And she strongly believes music can be healing as well.