Cervical Cancer - Share Surgery Experience

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What are methods of treatment for cervical cancer?

Surgery is often performed to remove the cancer, especially in early-stage tumors. Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) may be performed, but other procedures that preserve the ability to carry a pregnancy can be done in younger women with small tumors. Both a cone biopsy (removal of the inside of the cervix where most tumors begin) and a trachelectomy (removal of the upper vagina and cervix) are options that can be used for small tumors in order to preserve fertility. With more advanced cancers, a procedure known as pelvic exenteration removes the uterus, surrounding lymph nodes, and parts of other organs surrounding the cancer, depending on its location.

Radiation therapy is another common treatment for cervical cancer. Both external beam radiation therapy (radiation therapy administered from an outside source of radiation) and brachytherapy (radiation therapy that involves the insertion of radioactive sources near the tumor for a fixed period of time) have been used for cervical cancer. These two types of therapy have also been used together. If radiation therapy is given as the main treatment for the cancer, it is often combined with chemotherapy. Side effects of radiation therapy include fatigue, diarrhea, skin changes, nausea, vomiting, irritation of the bladder, vaginal irritation and discharge, and sometimes menstrual changes or early menopause, if the ovaries are exposed to radiation.

Chemotherapy may be recommended together with radiation therapy (chemoradiation) for some stages of chemotherapy. It may also be given before or after radiation treatment. Chemotherapy drugs commonly used for cervical cancer include cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil. Chemotherapy may also be the treatment of choice for cervical cancer that has come back after treatment. Side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, fatigue, vomiting, hair loss, and mouth sores.

Targeted therapy refers to drugs that have been specifically developed, or targeted, to interrupt cellular processes that promote growth of cancer cells. Bevacizumab (Avastin) is an example of targeted therapy. It is a drug that inhibits the ability of tumors to make new blood vessels, which is required for tumor growth. This kind of targeted therapy is sometimes used for advanced cervical cancers.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Maureen, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 15

Today, 8/14/14, I am 8 years post treatment and surgery for cervical cancer. After a course of chemotherapy, I had the cervix, extending 3 centimeters radiant diameter into the vagina, removed. I also had full hysterectomy and oophorectomy, lymph nodes from an aorta and ureter removed, all laparoscopic. I had to wear a urine bag for 2 weeks and had to be manually disimpacted for constipation. Then I had one more course of chemotherapy, and many weeks of radiation; all the while going to work. Gynecologist/oncologist told me other patients have had more vagina removed than I. I had to have physical therapy on and off for the next 3 years after that. I wonder if there is any plastic surgery available to help with the pelvic floor issues. I had to use a bed pad for about 4 years, but seem to have outgrown that problem (it was spasms). I still encounter daily issues of extreme urgency which I deal with by not moving, waiting a couple of minutes, then it's ok. I have encountered depression; I wonder if I will ever have a normal life.

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Comment from: gma, 45-54 Female (Caregiver) Published: January 20

My 43 year old daughter had stage 3B cervical cancer. She did 33 treatments of both chemotherapy and radiation, which did nothing to the tumor. She then had brachytherapy seed implants inserted. After 3 months her PET scan came back showing no signs of a tumor, truly amazing. She has been cancer free for 3 years, however the radiation damaged her left kidney and she has to use a bag to void in. I feel it is lesser of the 2 evils. She has not been able to work but can manage living on her own. She has had a 2nd chance at life. I would suggest seed implants for the most serious cases.

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