Surgery to remove the cancer depends on the location and extent of cervical cancer and your desire to be able to have children. You also may be given radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of the two (chemoradiation). These treatments may be given before or after surgery to try to destroy any cancer cells that may remain or to help control or shrink the tumor.
Surgery for very early stages of cervical cancer may preserve your ability to have children. Surgeries include:
- Cone biopsy (conization)Cone biopsy (conization) or loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP)loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). This removes a wedge of cervical tissue that contains the cancer.
- Radical trachelectomyRadical trachelectomy. This removes the cervix, part of the vagina, and the pelvic lymph nodes (lymph node dissection). But the uterus is left in place.
Surgery for most stages of cervical cancer does not preserve your ability to have children. Surgeries include:
. This is surgery to remove the uterus and cervix . During this surgery, the ovaries and fallopian tubes may also be removed to reduce the chances of recurrence.
- Radical hysterectomy. This is surgery to remove the uterus, cervix, part of the vagina, and tissues around these organs. The ovaries, fallopian tubes, and nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.
- Modified radical hysterectomy. This is surgery to remove the the uterus, cervix, upper part of the vagina, and tissues around these organs. But less tissue and fewer organs are removed than in a radical hysterectomy.
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (say "sal-PIN-go oh-uh-fuh-REK-tuh-mee"). This is surgery to remove both ovaries and both fallopian tubes.
- Pelvic exenteration (say "ig-ZEN-tuh-ray-shun"). This is the most serious pelvic surgery. It is done when cancer has spread throughout the lower belly and pelvis. In this surgery, the uterus, cervix, vagina, ovaries, lower colon, rectum, and bladder are removed. Artificial openings are made so urine and stool can pass from the body into a collection bag. An artificial vagina can also be created during this surgery.
Dealing with side effects of surgery
Side effects from a conization or LEEP include mild cramping during the first few hours, soreness for several days, and vaginal discharge for about a week. These surgeries may be done in your doctor's office.
A hysterectomy is major surgery with general anesthesia, so you will likely be in the hospital for a few days. With laparoscopic surgery, you may go home the next day. As soon as you feel strong enough, get up and move around as much as you can. This helps prevent problems after surgery like blood clots, pneumonia, and gas pains.
Other side effects from hysterectomy include:
- Pain or discomfort for a few days. Medicines can help with this, so talk with your doctor about pain medicines before your surgery.
- Short-term effects, such as feeling sick to your stomach or having trouble emptying your bladder. These problems usually go away on their own after a few hours.
- Early menopause, if you have not yet started menopause. You won't have menstrual periods any more. You may have hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, or other symptoms of menopause. Before your surgery, talk with your doctor about hormone therapy and other treatment options.
- Changes in sexual response. For some women, having a hysterectomy changes their sexual response. If you notice any sexual problems, talk with your doctor.
For more information, see the topic Sexual Problems in Women.
Home treatment may help relieve some common after-surgery side effects.