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Cervical cancer follow up

Women discussing cervical cancer

This page tells you about follow up after treatment for cervical cancer.  There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Cervical cancer follow up

After your treatment has finished, your doctor will want you to have regular check ups. These may include being examined, having a liquid based cytology test or colposcopy, blood tests, and X-rays or scans. Your doctor will ask how you are feeling and if you have any side effects from treatment. They will also want to know whether you have had any new symptoms or are worried about anything.

Immediately after your treatment is over you will have a sample of cells taken from your cervix using a small brush (smear). Or you may have a colposcopy. You will have this repeated once a year. If you've had your womb removed, your doctor may suggest a test to brush some cells from the top of the vagina.

Your check ups will continue for some years after your treatment. At first they will be every few months. But if all is well, they will gradually become less and less frequent. If you are worried, or notice any new symptoms that you think may be related to your cancer, you can contact your doctor between appointments.

Many people find their check ups very stressful. A hospital appointment can bring all the worry about your cancer back to you. You may find it helpful to tell someone close to you how you are feeling. Or you may want to find out about counselling. Look in the coping with cancer section for information about counselling and emotional support.
 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating cervical cancer section.

 

 

What happens at follow up appointments

This page tells you about follow up after treatment for cervical cancer. After your treatment has finished, your doctor will want you to have regular check ups. These may include

You will not have all these tests at every visit to your specialist. But you will probably be examined at each appointment. And you may have blood tests regularly too. Your doctor will ask how you are feeling and if you have any side effects from treatment. They will also want to know whether you have had any new symptoms or are worried about anything.

Immediately after your treatment is over you will have a sample of cells taken from the cervix using a small brush. Or you may have a colposcopy. You have this repeated once a year. If you've had your womb removed, your doctor may suggest taking a sample of cells from the top of the vagina if you have unusual symptoms. This is called a vaginal vault test.

Cervical cells can be very difficult to interpret after radiotherapy, and so you will not continue to have regular tests as part of the UK cervical screening programme. But your doctor will still want to have a look at the cervix using a speculum during your appointments to make sure there are no problems.

 

How often you have check ups

Your check ups will continue for some years after your treatment. At first they will be every few months. But if all is well, they will gradually become less and less frequent. How often you have appointments may vary according to the guidelines your doctor uses. One example of follow up is 3 to 4 month check ups to start with. Then if all is well at a year after treatment they will change to 6 monthly for 2 years. And then yearly for another 3 years.

Some hospitals see patients less often, if the outcome of their treatment is likely to be good. Some are also arranging for specialist nurses to follow up patients with phone calls, to save them having to come to the hospital unnecessarily.

 

Worrying about your appointments

If you are worried, or notice any new symptoms that you think may be related to your cancer, you can contact your doctor between appointments. Many people find their check ups very stressful. If you are feeling well and getting on with life, a hospital appointment can bring all the worry about your cancer back to you. You may find it helpful to tell someone close to you how you are feeling. If you are able to share your worries, they may not seem quite so bad.

It is quite common nowadays for people to have counselling after cancer treatment. You can find out more about counselling in our coping with cancer section.

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Updated: 2 June 2014