Cervical cancer surgery can have several side effects, the most notable of which are a loss of fertility and a chance of infection. It’s important to remember, though, that different procedures have different risks. A cone biopsy, for instance, is a much less extensive surgery than a radical hysterectomy, which means that it is associated with fewer complications.
Your treatment team won’t recommend surgery unless the potential benefits significantly outweigh the risks. However, if you’re preparing for cervical cancer surgery, you can ask your surgeon which side effects are most commonly associated with the specific procedure you are considering and whether there are any ways you can reduce or avoid them.
Cervical cancer surgery side effects
Any gynecological operation has the risk of certain complications, including:
- Pain at the incision site
- Blood loss
- Damage to the bladder or intestines
While your surgeon may recommend that you avoid sexual activity while you recover from cervical cancer surgery, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any long-term sexual side effects. Even after a radical hysterectomy, women can still feel sexual pleasure and reach orgasm.
Women who have more extensive forms of cervical cancer surgery (simple and total hysterectomies, pelvic exenterations and salpingo oophorectomies) will no longer have the ability to have children. Because these procedures involve the removal of the uterus, they cause infertility. However, women who have cryosurgery, laser surgery, conization surgery or a trachelectomy may still have the ability to have children after treatment.
The benefits of choosing an experienced surgeon
Working with an experienced treatment team can help you minimize some of the risks of cervical cancer surgery. A surgical oncologist who specializes in gynecological procedures will be the most familiar with your specific diagnosis and the most effective ways to treat it. Additionally, surgeons who work at high-volume cancer centers often operate more frequently than those who do not, meaning that they have more hands-on experience with different surgical techniques and technologies.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we have several surgeons who specialize exclusively in treating cancers of the female reproductive organs. These surgeons perform a high number of procedures each year, allowing them to operate with a high level of precision and expertise. And, Moffitt has several advanced technologies, including the robotic da Vinci® Surgical System, that allow our surgical oncologists to achieve excellent outcomes in terms of survival rates, complication rates and quality of life.