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Hysterectomy for cervical cancer

A hysterectomy is a type of surgery used to treat early stage cervical cancer.

We know that reading about surgery can be overwhelming, whether you are making treatment decisions, waiting to have it, or recovering. We are here to support you – that might be by talking through options, helping you understand more about hysterectomy, or simply listen to what’s going on.

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What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a type of surgery that remove the womb (uterus) and cervix. It aims to remove all the cervical cancer.

Types of hysterectomy

There are different types of hysterectomy:

  • Simple hysterectomy (also called a total hysterectomy). The cervix, womb and fallopian tubes are removed. If possible, the ovaries will be left to prevent early menopause.
  • Radical hysterectomy. The cervix, womb and fallopian tubes are removed, along with the supporting tissue at the side of the womb (the parametrium) and the top part of the vagina.

You might also need to have the lymph nodes in your pelvis removed. This is called a lymph node dissection or lymphadenectomy.

Read about lymph node removal >

If you have already gone through the menopause or your healthcare team think it’s best for you, you may also have your ovaries removed. 

The type of surgery you have depends on the size of your cancer and how far it has spread (the stage) and type of cervical cancer. As well as your risk of the cancer coming back after surgery.

Who can have a hysterectomy?

You might be offered a hysterectomy if you have early stage cervical cancer – particularly stages 1A2, 1B1 and 1B2. Sometimes you may be offered a hysterectomy for stage 2A1 cervical cancer. 

Read about staging and grading cervical cancer >

Making decisions about treatment

A team of healthcare professionals, called a multidisciplinary team or MDT, will discuss your test results, diagnosis and medical history to help decide which treatments are best for you.

It is important that you are involved in any decisions about your treatment. You need to know and understand all the information about the treatment, including the benefits and risks.

You may also want to think about how having the treatment might impact on your life, including:

  • being able to have a child or more children (fertility)
  • being able to keep working (employment)
  • your finances, for any support you might need
  • other commitments or responsibilities you have. 

Read about making treatment decisions >

If you have a hysterectomy, you won’t be able to get pregnant and give birth to a child. You will probably feel very emotional about this, which can make it hard to think about some practical steps you could take. But it is important to discuss these options with your healthcare team before you start treatment. Before treatment, you may be able to:

  • freeze and store eggs
  • freeze and store embryos – these are eggs that have been fertilised.

Read about ways to have a child or more children >

This may delay treatment, so you will need to consider any risks of doing that. Your healthcare team can explain how it might affect your individual situation. Unfortunately, egg and embryo freezing is not always possible and these services are not available in every hospital.

Read about fertility preservation on the Macmillan Cancer Support website >

If your cancer is at a very early stage and you might want to have children in the future, you can ask your team about a smaller operation called a trachelectomy. This is an operation which removes the cervix but leaves the womb in place.

Read about trachelectomy >

Your immune system protects the body from infection by finding and killing germs, bacteria or viruses. Surgery doesn’t usually have a big impact on your immune system. However, getting COVID-19 before or after surgery may increase your risk of complications.

Your hospital is doing as much as possible to reduce this risk. When your healthcare team are supporting you to make treatment decisions, they will consider the risk of COVID-19 as part of this. In most hospitals we have spoken to, surgeries are continuing as usual for cervical cancer patients. But your healthcare team may talk to you about:

  • delaying your treatment
  • changing to a different treatment
  • using telephone calls and video calls to avoid face-to-face appointments where possible
  • having a test to check for COVID-19 before your surgery. 

Read about COVID-19 and healthcare >

More information and support after hysterectomy

Any type of surgery for cervical cancer can have a huge impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing. Your healthcare team, both at the hospital and at your GP surgery, 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 surgery, are in recovery, or are years past it. Our trained volunteers can listen and help you understand what’s going on via our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000.

Check our Helpline opening hours >

Our 1:1 service offers a private way to get support over email, phone call or video call. We can talk through your personal situation, as well as helping you process your feelings and think about next steps. We also welcome partners and family members to use our 1:1 service, so if you are a loved one reading this or think yours would benefit from some extra support, get in touch.

Access our 1:1 service >

Sometimes connecting with others who have gone through a similar experience can be helpful. Our online Forum lets our community give and get support. You can read through the messages or post your own – whichever feels most comfortable.

Join our Forum >

If you have general questions about surgery for cervical cancer, 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 >

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.
  • Kim, JH. et al (2019). Comparative Effectiveness of Abdominal versus Laparoscopic Radical Hysterectomy for Cervical Cancer in the Postdissemination Era. Cancer Research and Treatment. 51;2. pp.788-796.
  • Cibula, D. et al (2018). The European Society of Gynaecological Oncology/European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology/European Society of Pathology guidelines for the management of patients with cervical cancer. Radiotherapy Oncology. 127;3. pp.404-416.
  • Zhao, Y. et al (2017). Laparoscopic Radical Hysterectomy in Early Stage Cervical Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Laparoendoscopic & Advanced Surgical Techniques and Videoscopy. 27;11. pp.1132-1144.

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 >

"The radical hysterectomy was the first point of treatment that I had."
Watch Jessica's story
"It is true, that word 'cancer' is accompanied by a punch in the stomach."
Read Laura's story
Date last updated: 
03 Nov 2020
Date due for review: 
01 Nov 2023
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