Cancer Research UK on Google+ Cancer Research UK on Facebook Cancer Research UK on Twitter

Surgery for advanced cervical cancer

Women discussing cervical cancer

This page has information about the different operations you may have if you have cancer of the neck of the womb (cervix) that has spread beyond the cervix. 

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Surgery for advanced cervical cancer

Surgery for advanced cervical cancer can involve many of the structures within the pelvis (the lower part of your abdomen). All the cancer will need to be removed, together with all the lymph nodes that may be affected. How much surgery you have will be very individual. It will depend on where the cancer is.

Removing the womb, cervix, top of the vagina and lymph nodes as well as other organs is called pelvic exenteration. The aim of exenteration is to try to cure your cancer. Because it is a big operation, it is important that you are fit enough to make a good recovery. It is not suitable for everyone. You usually have an examination under anaesthetic and a scan first to check if an operation is possible for you. It is important to discuss this type of surgery fully with your doctor or specialist nurse so that you know exactly what to expect after the operation.

 

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

 

 

What advanced cervical cancer is

Advanced cervical cancer includes both cervical cancer that has spread at the time of your diagnosis, and cervical cancer that has come back after previous treatment.

 

What surgery involves

Surgery for advanced cervical cancer can involve many of the structures within the pelvis (the lower part of your abdomen).  All the cancer will need to be removed, together with any lymph nodes the cancer may have spread into.  How much surgery you have will be very individual.  It will depend on where the cancer is.

 

Types of surgery

Removing the womb, cervix, top of the vagina and lymph nodes as well as other organs is called pelvic exenteration. The aim of exenteration is to try to cure your cancer. Because it is a big operation, it is important that you are fit enough to make a good recovery. It is not suitable for everyone. You usually have an examination under anaesthetic and a scan first to check if an operation is possible for you. This may be a CT scan, an MRI scan or a PET scan. It is important to discuss this type of operation fully with your doctor or specialist nurse so that you know exactly what to expect after the operation.

There are 3 types of exenteration operations

Anterior (front) exenteration

In this operation you will have your womb, ovaries, cervix, top of the vagina and lymph nodes removed. Your bladder and lymph nodes around the bladder will also be removed.

After this operation you will have a urostomy and will need to have bags to collect your urine. There is information about a urostomy in our section about bladder cancer. If you look at this section, do remember to use the back button to come back to the cervical cancer section. The rest of the information in the bladder cancer section will not apply to you.

Diagram showing the area removed with anterior exenteration surgery for cancer of the cervix

Posterior (back) exenteration

In this operation you will have your womb, ovaries, cervix, top of the vagina and lymph nodes removed. Part of your bowel and rectum will also be removed.

After this operation you will need to have a colostomy and you will have a bag to collect your bowel movements (poo). There is information about a colostomy in our section about bowel (colorectal) cancer. If you look at this section, do remember to use the back button to come back to the cervical cancer section. The rest of the information in the bowel cancer section will not apply to you.

Diagram showing the area removed with posterior exenteration surgery for cancer of the cervix

Total exenteration

In this operation you will have your womb, ovaries, cervix, top of the vagina and lymph nodes removed. You will also have the lower bowel, rectum and the bladder removed.

After this operation you will have both a colostomy and a urostomy. You will need to have a bag to collect your bowel movements and a bag to collect your urine. There is information about a colostomy in our section about bowel (colorectal) cancer and information about a urostomy in our section about bladder cancer. If you look at either of these sections, do remember to use the back button to come back to the cervical cancer section. The rest of the information in the bowel cancer and bladder cancer sections will not apply to you.

Diagram showing the area removed with total exenteration surgery for cancer of the cervix

Rate this page:
Submit rating

 

Rated 3 out of 5 based on 3 votes
Rate this page
Rate this page for no comments box
Please enter feedback to continue submitting
Send feedback
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team

No Error

Updated: 2 June 2014