Life after treatment for cancer of the uterus
For most people, the cancer experience doesn’t end on the last day of treatment. Life after cancer treatment can present its own challenges. You may have mixed feelings when treatment ends, and worry that every ache and pain means the cancer is coming back.
Some people say that they feel pressure to return to “normal life”. It is important to allow yourself time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and establish a new daily routine at your own pace. Your family and friends may also need time to adjust.
Cancer Council 13 11 20 can help you connect with other people who have had cancer, and provide you with information about the emotional and practical aspects of living well after cancer.
For more on this, see Living well after cancer.
Learn more about:
- Effect on your emotions
- Dealing with feelings of sadness
- Follow-up appointments
- Looking after yourself
- If cancer of the uterus returns
Effect on your emotions
Changes to your body can affect the way you feel about yourself (your self esteem) and make you feel self-conscious. You may feel less confident about who you are and what you can do. Try to see yourself as a whole person (body, mind and personality), instead of focusing on the parts that have changed.
It is normal to experience a wide variety of emotions after treatment, including anger, fear and resentment. These feelings may become stronger over time as you adjust to the physical side effects of treatment.
Everyone has their own ways of coping with their emotions. There is no right or wrong way. It is important to give yourself and those around you time to deal with the emotions that cancer can cause. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for help and support.
If you have continued feelings of sadness, have trouble getting up in the morning or have lost motivation to do things that previously gave you pleasure, you may be experiencing depression. This is quite common among people who have had cancer.
Talk to your GP, as counselling or medication – even for a short time – may help. Some people can get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist. Ask your doctor if you are eligible. Cancer Council may also run a counselling program in your area.
After treatment ends, you will have regular appointments with your specialists to monitor your health, manage any long-term side effects and check that the cancer hasn’t come back (recurred) or spread. If you have a low risk of recurrence, your follow-up care may be shared between your cancer specialist and GP.
During check-ups, you will usually have a pelvic examination and you may have imaging scans. Taking a sample of cells from the vagina after a hysterectomy has not been shown to help identify a return of uterine cancer, so this is no longer done. You will often have check-ups every 3–4 months for the first year and then every 6–12 months for the next few years. This may vary depending on the type and stage of the cancer, so check your follow-up plan with your doctors.
When a follow-up appointment is approaching, many people feel anxious. Talk to your treatment team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 if you are finding it hard to manage this anxiety.
Cancer can cause physical and emotional strain, so it’s important to look after your wellbeing. Cancer Council has free booklets and programs to help you during and after treatment.
Call 13 11 20 to find out more, or see Managing cancer side effects, Exercise after a cancer diagnosis, Complementary therapies, Emotions and cancer, Nutrition and cancer, Sexuality, intimacy and cancer, Fertility and cancer, and Living well after cancer.
Alternative therapies are therapies used instead of conventional medical treatments. These are unlikely to be scientifically tested, may prevent successful treatment of the cancer and can be harmful. Cancer Council does not recommend the use of alternative therapies as a cancer treatment.
If cancer of the uterus returns
For some people, uterine cancer does come back after treatment, which is known as a recurrence. This is why it’s important to have regular check-ups and to report any symptoms (e.g. vaginal bleeding, pain in the abdomen, swelling, unexpected weight loss, unexplained cough) immediately, rather than waiting for your next follow-up appointment.
Most uterine cancers that come back do so in the first 2–3 years after treatment. If you have had a hysterectomy, cancer of the uterus usually comes back in the vagina or pelvic lymph nodes. It is possible for the cancer to come back in another part of your body. If the cancer does recur, you will usually be offered further treatment to remove the cancer or help control its growth.
Podcast for people affected by cancer
A/Prof Jim Nicklin, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Associate Professor Gynaecologic Oncology, The University of Queensland, QLD; Dr Robyn Cheuk, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Prof Michael Friedlander, Medical Oncologist, The Prince of Wales Hospital and Conjoint Professor of Medicine, The University of NSW, NSW; Kim Hobbs, Clinical Specialist Social Worker, Gynaecological Cancer, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Adele Hudson, Statewide Clinical Nurse Consultant, Gynaecological Oncology Service, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Dr Anthony Richards, Gynaecological Oncologist, The Royal Women’s Hospital and Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital, VIC; Georgina Richter, Gynaecological Oncology Clinical Nurse Consultant, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Deb Roffe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA.
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