Cervical Cancer (cont.)
Cervical Cancer Surgery
Surgery removes cancerous tissue in or near the cervix.
- If the cancer is only on the surface of the cervix, the cancerous cells may be removed or destroyed by using methods similar to those used to treat precancerous lesions.
- If the disease has invaded deeper layers of the cervix but has not spread beyond the cervix, an operation may remove the tumor but leave the uterus and the ovaries.
- If the disease has spread into the uterus, hysterectomy is usually necessary.
- Hysterectomy is also sometimes done to prevent spread of the cancer.
Hysterectomy is surgical removal of the entire uterus, including the cervix; sometimes the ovaries and fallopian tubes also are removed. In addition, lymph nodes near the uterus may be removed to check for spread of the cancer.
Hysterectomy is major surgery.
- The decision to have a hysterectomy is made by a woman, her partner, and her health care professional.
- Whether hysterectomy is necessary depends on the individual circumstances.
- In invasive disease, a hysterectomy is usually recommended.
- Some women who do not plan to have children in the future may choose to undergo hysterectomy for preventive reasons. Other women who do plan to have children may wish to preserve their reproductive organs even if this increases their risk somewhat.
Hysterectomy requires a considerable recovery period.
- For a few days after the operation, a woman may have pain in her lower abdomen. The pain can be controlled by medication.
- A woman may have difficulty emptying her bladder. She may need to have a thin, plastic tube called a catheter inserted into the bladder to drain the urine for a few days after surgery. She also may have trouble having normal bowel movements.
- A woman's activities should be limited for a period of time after the surgery to allow healing to take place. Normal activities, including sexual intercourse, usually can be resumed in four to eight weeks.
Once a woman has had her uterus removed, she will no longer have menstrual periods or be able to have children.
- Sexual desire and the ability to have intercourse usually are not affected by hysterectomy.
- On the other hand, many women have an emotionally difficult time after this surgery.
- A woman's view of her own sexuality may change. She may feel an emotional loss because she is no longer able to have children.
- A woman may want to discuss these issues with her health care professional, a social worker, or counselor. Support groups are available as well.
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