There are various treatments for cervical cancer, and a hysterectomy may be an option for people in the early stages of the disease. A person’s suitability for the procedure depends on several factors, such as whether the cancer has spread and any future pregnancy plans.

Early-stage cervical cancer has a 5-year survival rate of 92%. As the cancer spreads, the survival rate drops. This suggests that early detection and treatment are critical for a person’s outlook.

Hysterectomy is a common part of cervical cancer treatment. It involves removing the uterus, and in the case of cervical cancer, the cervix. A doctor may also remove a person’s ovaries.

People with early-stage cancer who choose hysterectomies usually go into remission. According to a 2020 meta-analysis comparing surgical interventions, the 5-year survival rate following a traditional hysterectomy is around 90%.

Read more about how hysterectomy for cervical cancer works, suitable candidates, and the outlook after surgery.

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A hysterectomy is the removal of a person’s uterus. If a person has a hysterectomy to treat cervical cancer, a doctor will also remove their cervix. The cervix is a narrow passage at the bottom of the uterus connecting it to the vagina.

Although cervical cancer starts in the cervix, it often spreads to the uterus. Once the cancer spreads, it is called invasive cervical cancer.

If a person has invasive cancer, a doctor can treat it by removing both the uterus and cervix.

Historically, a doctor would make an incision in the abdomen to remove the uterus. Now they perform minimally invasive surgeries with smaller incisions, which can shorten recovery time.

Having a hysterectomy usually improves outcomes for people with cervical cancer. According to a 2020 meta-analysis, having a hysterectomy at an early cancer stage increases a person’s survival rate to about 90%.

However, survival rates can vary depending on the type of hysterectomy a person has. The study found that minimally invasive hysterectomies were associated with higher rates of cancer recurrence and death than invasive hysterectomies.

A person who has had a hysterectomy is not immune to cervical cancer. If the hysterectomy did not involve removing an individual’s cervix, they could still develop cervical cancer.

Sometimes people have hysterectomies for other reasons, such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis. These individuals can later develop cervical cancer.

However, if a person has a hysterectomy that removes the cervix, they cannot develop new cervical cancer.

In some people with cervical cancer, the cancerous cells spread to other parts of the body before the hysterectomy. This means they can regrow elsewhere in the body after surgery. Commonly, a person’s cancer regrows in the vagina.

People with early-stage cervical cancer often have a radical hysterectomy as part of their treatment. While many individuals with cervical cancer have a hysterectomy, it is not the right option for everyone.

A person is a good candidate for surgery if:

  • Their body is strong enough for surgery.
  • They do not want a future pregnancy. People with early-stage cervical cancer who wish to become pregnant in the future may instead have conization, which is the removal of a cone-shaped piece of abnormal cells from the cervix.
  • They have a localized stage of cancer that is less likely to spread. If the cancer is advanced, a hysterectomy may not cure the cancer.

A surgeon usually performs a hysterectomy on a person who is under general anesthesia. This means the individual will be asleep during surgery.

Depending on the procedure, the individual may need to stay in the hospital before or after treatment.

There are several different types of hysterectomy:

  • Abdominal hysterectomy: Sometimes called an open hysterectomy, the surgeon removes the uterus via an incision in the abdomen. Although it requires a longer hospital stay, there is an association with lower rates of cancer recurrence and death than less invasive procedures.
  • Vaginal hysterectomy: In this procedure, a doctor removes the uterus and cervix through the vagina. Recovery time is shorter, at about 3 to 4 weeks, and a person may not need an inpatient hospital stay. However, it may not be an option if an individual has certain medical conditions, such as large uterine fibroids.
  • Laparoscopic hysterectomy: A surgeon makes small incisions in the abdomen and inserts instruments to perform the surgery. It has a shorter recovery time than more invasive procedures, but there is a link with higher rates of cancer relapse and death.

After surgery, a person may experience complications, such as infection or bleeding. In rare instances, there may be damage to surrounding organs, blood clots, or other serious complications.

The individual may also go through emotional changes. Removing a person’s uterus means they cannot become pregnant, which can have an emotional impact.

Additionally, if a doctor removes a person’s ovaries, they will go through menopause. This causes significant hormonal changes and can be challenging both physically and emotionally. The drop in a person’s estrogen levels also increases their risk of osteoporosis and can cause vaginal dryness, hot flashes, depression, and anxiety.

Some people choose hormone replacement therapy to minimize these effects.

The outlook for most people with early-stage cervical cancer that has not spread is generally positive. About 90% of people who have a hysterectomy will survive 5 years or more.

However, if a person’s cancer spreads to other parts of the body, their outlook is less optimistic.

A hysterectomy can be an important part of treating a person’s cancer, but it can also cause significant life changes. It can impact their sexual functioning, fertility, body image, and more. People experiencing these challenges may benefit from contacting a mental health professional.

While any cancer diagnosis is worrying, cervical cancer is highly treatable, especially in its early stages.

A hysterectomy is an effective strategy for managing the disease and a common procedure to treat people with early-stage cervical cancer.

Treatment options vary from person to person, so it is important for individuals to discuss any concerns with a doctor.