Radiation therapy is used for certain stages of
cervical cancer, often along with
surgery. Chemotherapy may be given at the same time as radiation treatment (chemoradiation) to improve survival rates. Chemoradiation may be used as the main treatment or after a hysterectomy.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to
kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside
the body (external radiation therapy). Or it may come from radiation material
(radioisotopes) in thin plastic tubes inserted through the vagina into the
cervical area where the cancer cells are found.
Dealing with side effects of radiation
Radiation may cause many
side effects, including diarrhea and irritation of the bladder (radiation
cystitis). Home treatment may help relieve some common side effects of cancer treatment. For more information, see Home Treatment.
Your ability to have or enjoy sexual intercourse may also be
affected. This is because radiation may cause changes to the cells lining the vagina
(mucosa), making intercourse difficult or painful. A series of vaginal
dilators, starting with a small one and progressing to a larger size, may be
used after radiation therapy. Using the dilators can make the vaginal opening
larger and help make sex less difficult or painful.
treat cervical cancer may thin the bone and increase the risk of fractures in
the pelvic area, including hip fractures. You can take steps to prevent
thinning of the bone (osteoporosis), such as getting enough
calcium and vitamin D. Also, try to
prevent falls, which can lead to fractures. For more information, see the topic
Some women with
cervical cancer may be interested in taking part in research studies called
clinical trials. Clinical trials are designed to find
better ways to treat cancer patients. They are based on the most up-to-date
information. Women who don't want standard treatments or are not cured using
standard treatments may want to take part in clinical trials. These are
ongoing in most parts of the United States and in some other countries for all
stages of cervical cancer.
People sometimes use complementary therapies along with medical treatment to help relieve symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments. Some of the therapies that may be helpful include:
These mind-body treatments may help you feel better. They can make it easier to cope with treatment. They also may reduce chronic low back pain, joint pain, headaches, and pain from treatments.
Before you try a complementary therapy, talk to your doctor about the possible value and potential side effects. Let your doctor know if you are already using any of these therapies. They are not meant to take the place of standard medical treatment.