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Follow-up after hysterectomy

After you have had a hysterectomy, your healthcare team will ask you to come back to the hospital for regular check-ups. This is so you continue to get proper care and support.

We know that waiting for follow-up appointments can be difficult, which is why we are here to support you. You may find it helpful to give us a call on 0808 802 8000 before or after treatment, or speak with our 1:1 service.

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Checking the treatment was successful

After a hysterectomy, 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 may also happen:

  • if the cancer has spread 
  • to reduce the risk of the cervical cancer coming back.

You may be offered further surgery or chemotherapy given with radiotherapy (chemoradiation). It is important to discuss the risks and benefit of any treatments with your healthcare team.

Read about other treatments for cervical cancer >

Check-up appointments

If all the cancer has been removed, you will have regular check-ups to check that there is no sign of the cancer coming back. You will usually have check-ups:

  • 6 to 8 weeks after your treatment has finished
  • every 3 to 6 months for first 2 years
  • every 6 to 12 months for the next 3 years.

Every hospital does check-ups differently, so it is best to ask your healthcare team about your individual plan. 

At these appointments, you might see or speak to your consultant oncologist or clinical nurse specialist (CNS). These check-ups will:

  • monitor any side effects 
  • provide you with support.

These check-ups may be at the hospital, or by phone or video call. The COVID-19 pandemic means it is more likely you will be offered a phone or video call check-up, as your healthcare team will be following safety rules put in place by the hospital. However, if you or your healthcare team would prefer that you go into the hospital, they will arrange this for you.  

You might have physical examinations during your check-ups. These may include:

  • a pelvic examination – where your healthcare professional feels your stomach and may put gloved fingers inside your vagina 
  • a speculum or visual examination – where your healthcare professional uses a speculum (plastic tube) to gently open your vagina and look at your vagina or cervix, if you still have one
  • a vaginal vault test (vault smear) – a sample of cells is taken from the top of your vagina and checked for any changes, a bit like cervical screening (a smear test).

You won’t usually have scans unless your healthcare team think you should have it. They might suggest it if you are having new symptoms. If you would feel more comfortable having a scan, it is important to ask for one.

If you are worried about anything or would like advice, you should be able to get in touch with your CNS or another member of your healthcare team.

Read our blog about vaginal vault tests >

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.
  • 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.
  • Marth, C. et al (2017). Cervical cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of Oncology. 28;s4. pp.iv72-iv83.

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 >

What is a vault smear?

Dr Andy Nordin and Laura, who had a hysterectomy, talk about vault smears.

Read the blog
"I don’t think I was fully prepared for the impact that having a hysterectomy would have."
Read Hayley's story
Date last updated: 
04 Nov 2020
Date due for review: 
01 Nov 2023
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