Cancer of the Uterus (Uterine Cancer or Endometrial Cancer)

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Surgery of uterine cancer and side effects

Surgery is the most common treatment for women with uterine cancer. You and your surgeon can talk about the types of surgery (hysterectomy) and which may be right for you.

The surgeon usually removes the uterus, cervix, and nearby tissues. The nearby tissues may include:

  • Ovaries
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Nearby lymph nodes
  • Part of the vagina

The time it takes to heal after surgery is different for each woman. After a hysterectomy, most women go home in a couple days, but some women leave the hospital the same day. You'll probably return to your normal activities within 4 to 8 weeks after surgery.

You may have pain or discomfort for the first few days. Medicine can help control your pain. Before surgery, you should discuss the plan for pain relief with your doctor or nurse. After surgery, your doctor can adjust the plan if you need more pain control.

It's common to feel tired or weak for a while. You may have nausea and vomiting. Some women are constipated after surgery or lose control of their bladder. These effects are usually temporary.

If you haven't gone through menopause yet, you'll stop having menstrual periods after surgery, and you won't be able to become pregnant. Also, you may have hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and night sweats. These symptoms are caused by the sudden loss of female hormones. Talk with your doctor or nurse about your symptoms so that you can develop a treatment plan together. There are drugs and lifestyle changes that can help, and most symptoms go away or lessen with time.

Surgery to remove lymph nodes may cause lymphedema (swelling) in one or both legs. Your health care team can tell you how to prevent or relieve lymphedema.

For some women, a hysterectomy can affect sexual intimacy. You may have feelings of loss that make intimacy difficult. Sharing these feelings with your partner may be helpful. Sometimes couples talk with a counselor to help them express their concerns.

You may want to ask your doctor these questions before having surgery:

  • What type of surgery do you recommend for me? Why?
  • Will lymph nodes and other tissues be removed? Why?
  • How will I feel after surgery? If I have pain, how can it be controlled?
  • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • When will I be able to return to normal activities?
  • What are the long-term effects of the surgery?
  • How will the surgery affect my sex life?

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