Cervical Cancer - Treatment And Side effects
What is the treatment?
Treatment of cervical cancer depends on the type of cancer, the stage, the
size and shape of the tumour, the age and general health of the woman, and her desire for future childbearing.
In its earliest stages, the disease is curable by removing or destroying the pre-cancerous or cancerous tissue.
This can often be done in various ways without removing the uterus or damaging the cervix so that a woman is
still capable of having children.
In other cases, a removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) is performed, with or without removal of the ovaries.
In more advanced disease, a radical hysterectomy may be performed which removes the uterus and much of the
surrounding tissues, including internal lymph nodes. In the most extreme surgery, called a pelvic exenteration,
all of the organs of the pelvis, including the
urinary bladder and rectum, are removed.
Radiation or chemotherapy may be used to treat cancer that has spread beyond
the pelvis, or has recurred. A variety of chemotherapeutic drugs, or combinations of them, are used. Sometimes
radiation and chemotherapy are used before or after surgery.
Managing side effects
Side effects can vary. Some women will have no side effects, others will experience a few.
Side effects may last from a few weeks to a year or more. Fortunately, most go away in time.
There are ways to reduce or manage the discomfort that side effects cause.
- Premature menopause
- Effects on sex life
- Bowel problems
- Bladder problems
- Fertility problems.
The ovaries produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. If you've had a hysterectomy and both ovaries have
been removed or if you have had radiotherapy in the pelvic area, your ovaries will no longer produce these
hormones. This will cause sudden menopause.
The symptoms are usually more severe than a natural menopause because the body hasn't had time to get used to
the loss of hormones. Symptoms can include hot flushes, mood swings, trouble sleeping and tiredness. Talk to
your doctor about medication for relieving the symptoms of menopause.
Premature menopause may also cause bones to weaken and break more easily. This is called
- Eat low-fat dairy food and other food high in calcium.
- Exercise regularly. Walking, dancing and weight training all help reduce the rate of bone loss.
- Talk to your doctor about medication for osteoporosis.
Effects on sex life
You don't need your cervix to have sex but treatment for cervical cancer can affect your sex life. Many of these
effects can be prevented or treated.