Side effects of surgery
After surgery for cervical cancer, you may experience some of the following side effects. For more information, see Managing the side effects of cervical cancer.
Problems with bladder or bowel function
If some of the nerves to the bladder were removed during the hysterectomy, you may feel that you’re not able to empty your bladder completely, or that you’re emptying your bladder or bowel too slowly. These problems improve with time. Some women experience accidental leakage of urine after surgery. This is called urinary incontinence.
Sometimes the removal of lymph nodes in the pelvis can stop or slow the natural flow of lymphatic fluid. This may cause lymphoedema, which is excess fluid in the legs. Symptoms of lymphoedema may appear immediately or years after surgery.
If your ovaries are removed and you have not been through menopause, removal will cause sudden menopause. After menopause you will not be able to become pregnant.
Impact on sexuality
The physical and emotional changes you experience after surgery may affect how you feel about sex, but surgery doesn’t change the ability to have sex or feel pleasure.
Internal scar tissue (adhesions)
Tissues in the pelvis may stick together. Sometimes adhesions to the bowel or bladder may cause abdominal pain or discomfort. Rarely, adhesions may need to be treated with surgery.
A/Prof Penny Blomfield, Gynaecological Oncologist, Hobart Women’s Specialists, and Chair, Australian Society of Gynaecological Oncologists, TAS; Karina Campbell, Consumer; Carmen Heathcote, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland; Dr Pearly Khaw, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Jim Nicklin, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Associate Professor Gynaecologic Oncology, The University of Queensland; Prof Martin K Oehler, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Dr Megan Smith, Program Manager – Cervix, Cancer Council NSW; Pauline Tanner, Cancer Nurse Coordinator – Gynaecology, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, WA; Tamara Wraith, Senior Clinician, Physiotherapy Department, The Royal Women’s Hospital, VIC. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment
Work and cancer
Information for employees, employers and workplaces dealing with cancer
Surgery is a medical treatment performed by a surgeon or a surgical oncologist to remove cancer from the body or repair a part of the body affected by cancer
Recovery after surgery
What to expect in the hospital recovery room and ward
Caring for someone having surgery
Tips for the support person and visitors