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    Cervical Cancer

    Home Care for Cervical Cancer continued...

    Although self-treatment is inappropriate, there are things you can do to reduce the physical and mental stresses of cervical cancer and its treatment.

    Maintaining good nutrition is one of the best things you can do. You may lose your appetite during treatment for cervical cancer. Common side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, vomiting, and sores inside the mouth.

    However, if you take in enough calories and protein, you will maintain your strength and energy and better tolerate the side effects of treatment. Your cancer specialist (oncologist) or gynecologist may be able to recommend a nutritionist who can provide suggestions for keeping up your calorie and protein intake.

    The following lifestyle changes may help keep you stronger and more comfortable during treatment:

    • Engage in mild physical activity to keep up your energy level. Make sure it doesn't wear you out.
    • Get enough rest at night, and take naps if needed.
    • Quit smoking.
    • Avoid alcohol. You may not be able to drink alcohol with some of the medications you are taking. Be sure to ask your health care provider.

     

    Follow-Up After Cervical Cancer Treatment

    Regular pelvic exams and Pap smears are important for every woman. These tests are no less important for a woman who has been treated for precancerous changes or for cancer of the cervix.

    Follow-up care should include a full pelvic exam, Pap smear, and other tests as indicated on a regular schedule recommended by your gynecologist. These precautions are necessary to allow early detection should the cancer return.

    Cervical cancer treatment may cause side effects many years later. For this reason, you should continue to have regular checkups and should report any health problems that appear.

    Cervical Cancer Prevention

    The key to preventing invasive cervical cancer is to detect any cell changes early, before they become cancerous. Regular pelvic exams and Pap tests are the best way to do this. How often you should have a pelvic exam and Pap test depends on your individual situation, but here are guidelines:

    • Make sure you get a Pap test to check for cervical cancer every 3 years if you are 21 or older.
    • If you are 30-65, you can get both a  Pap test and human papillomavirus ( HPV ) test every 5 years. Older than that, you may be able to stop testing if your doctor says you are low risk.
    • Women of any age who’ve had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix and no history of cervical cancer or precancers do not need to be screened, according to the guidelines.
    • If you are sexually active and have a higher risk for STDs, get tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis yearly. Take an HIV test at least once, more frequently if you’re at risk.
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