Could Cervical Cancer Recur After Hysterectomy?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

My wife had an abnormal pap smear test which resulted in the doctor indicating she had abnormal cells on her cervix.  She had a hysterectomy to correct the problem but does this mean she could have developed cancer and does this predispose her to have cancer in the future?
Signed, MQ

Doctor's response

While we do not know the specific medical details involved in this situation, several general comments can be made about women who have had a hysterectomy for cervix abnormalities.  If the hysterectomy was done for dysplasia (see's Pap Smear article), then it may recur in the vagina in about 1-2% of patients who have had hysterectomy.  On the other hand, if a radical hysterectomy was done because of cervix cancer, recurrence rate may be up to 9%.  Recurrence probably depends somewhat on how advanced the cancer was, and it definitely depends on what type of hysterectomy was performed. 

One thing is certain in all women who have had hysterectomy for cervix abnormalities; even though risk of recurrence is pretty low, they need to be screened lifelong for recurrence by having a vaginal sample (vaginal smear) annually, or more often according to the doctor's advice.

Thank you for your question.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018