Side effects after surgery
After surgery for cancer of the uterus, you may experience some of these side effects:
Vaginal vault prolapse
After a hysterectomy, the top of the vagina can drop towards the vaginal opening because the structures that support it have weakened. To help avoid a prolapse, it is important to do pelvic floor exercises several times a day. Most women can start these exercises 1−2 weeks after surgery. Your treatment team may explain how to do these exercises. You can also consult a women’s health physiotherapist – you may be able to see one at the hospital or you can ask your GP for a referral.
For more on this, see Exercise during cancer treatment.
Impact on sexuality
The changes you experience after surgery may affect how you feel about sex and how you respond sexually.
Read more about managing the impact on sexuality.
The removal of lymph nodes from the pelvis can stop lymph fluid from draining normally, causing swelling in the legs known as lymphoedema. The risk of developing lymphoedema is low following most operations for cancer of the uterus in Australia, but it is higher in women who had a lymphadenectomy followed by external beam radiation therapy.
Symptoms appear gradually, sometimes years after the treatment. Your treatment team will explain how to reduce your risk.
Read more about managing lymphoedema.
A/Prof Alison Brand, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Prof Jonathan Carter, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Dr Robyn Cheuk, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Dr Alison Davis, Medical Oncologist, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, The Canberra Hospital, ACT; Kim Hobbs, Clinical Specialist Social Worker, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Nicole Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jennifer Loveridge, Consumer; Pauline Tanner, Gynaecology Cancer Nurse Coordinator, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, North Metropolitan Health Service, WA. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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