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Follow-up after pelvic exenteration

After a pelvic exenteration, your healthcare team will arrange for you to have regular appointments at the hospital. This is so they can continue to provide the right care and support.

There is no standard follow-up after pelvic exenteration, but we hope this information gives you a rough idea of what might happen. 

On this page:

In this section:

Treatment summary

Once your pelvic exenteration is done, you should be given a treatment summary. This is a document by your healthcare team that explains:

  • what treatments you have had
  • any side effects you might have
  • signs and symptoms to look out for 
  • a plan that has been made for your long-term care and support.   

This treatment summary should also be sent to your GP surgery, so they know how to support you too. You might want to check that the hospital have sent it to them.

Home visits

Once you are home, your stoma nurse or CNS may call you to make sure you are feeling well and not having any problems. They may arrange to visit you at home. This is to make sure you are coping well and to check your stoma.

You shouldn’t wait for a home visit to ask questions or tell your healthcare team about any worries. You should have a contact number for your stoma nurse or CNS, so give them a call if you have any problems.

Checking the treatment was successful

After a pelvic exenteration, the cancer and other areas that were removed will be sent to a laboratory. A specialist called a histopathologist will look at it under a microscope. They will check whether:

  • all the cancer has been removed
  • there are clear margins .

Having clear margins this means there is an edge around the cancer that is ‘clear’ – there are no cancer cells there. The size of the margins that your healthcare team is happy with may vary. Usually, clear margins are 2mm or more.

If you don’t have clear margins, you may need further treatment. This could be more surgery or a targeted therapy drug called Avastin (bevacizumab). It is important to discuss the risks and benefit of any treatments with your healthcare team.

Read about Avastin >  

Check-up appointments

You should have a first check-up appointment between 2 to 4 weeks after you have left the hospital. This appointment will happen at the hospital. At the check-up, your healthcare team will talk to you about:

  • whether your need any further treatment
  • any new symptoms or side effects you have.

They will also check that your wounds are healing properly.

After this, how often you have check-ups will depend on the results and how you are feeling. Even if everything is fine, your healthcare team will want to see you regularly so they can check on your progress.

Getting support before or after pelvic exenteration

We know that pelvic exenteration for advanced cervical cancer is life-changing. It changes your body, your relationship with your body, and can have a huge impact on your emotional wellbeing. Your healthcare team are there to support you with any questions or worries you have. 

Remember that we are here for you too, whether you are waiting to have pelvic exenteration, are in recovery, or are years past it. Sometimes connecting with others who have gone through a similar experience can be helpful. Our online Forum lets our community give and get support. We have a private forum for those with advanced cervical cancer. If you would like to join, we ask for a few details – this is kept private, but means we can make sure this part of the forum is a safe space. You can read through the messages or post your own – whichever feels most comfortable.

If you would like to connect with others who have had a pelvic exenteration, contact us at [email protected] We will do our best to put you in touch with someone.

Join our Forum > 

If you ever need to get in touch with someone quickly, our trained volunteers can listen and help you understand what’s going on. You can call our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000

Check our Helpline opening hours > 

If you have general questions about pelvic exenteration, our panel of medical experts may be able to help. They can’t give you answers about your individual situation or health – it’s best to speak with your GP or healthcare team for that.

Use our Ask the Expert service >

Useful organisations

Colostomy UK

A UK charity that offers information and support on living with and looking after a stoma. 

Helpline: 0800 328 4257

www.colostomyuk.org

Urostomy Association

Offers information and support to people who have, or who will have, a urostomy.

www.urostomyassociation.org.uk

Thank you to all the experts who checked the accuracy of this information, and the volunteers who shared their personal experience to help us develop it.

References

  • British Gynaecological Cancer Society (2020). Cervical Cancer Guidelines: Recommendations for Practice. Web: www.bgcs.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/FINAL-Cx-Ca-Version-for-submission.pdf. Accessed October 2020.
  • British Gynaecological Cancer Society (2019). Position Statement on Surgery in Early Stage Cervical Cancer – Lay Summary. Web: www.bgcs.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/NCRAS-mas-v-open-radical-hysterectomy-BGCS-lay-statement-May-2019-1.pdf. Accessed October 2020.
  • Li, L. et al (2018). Pelvic Exenteration for Recurrent and Persistent Cervical Cancer. Chinese Medicine Journal (Engl). 131;13. pp.1541-1548. 
  • Dessole, M. et al (2018). Quality of Life in Women After Pelvic Exenteration for Gynecological Malignancies: A Multicentric Study. Internal Journal of Gynecological Cancer. 28;2. pp.267-273. 
  • Westin, S. et al (2014). Overall survival after pelvic exenteration for gynecologic malignancy. Gynecologic oncology, 134;3, pp.546–551. 

We write our information based on literature searches and expert review. For more information about the references we used, please contact [email protected]

Read more about how we research and write our information >

Effects of pelvic exenteration >

Find out about risks and effects of pelvic exenteration on day-to-day life.

Date last updated: 
04 Nov 2020
Date due for review: 
01 Nov 2023
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