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Learn About the Side Effects of Cervical Cancer Treatment

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Once treatment has concluded, depending on the type of treatment and the stage that the cervical cancer was in, you will most likely feel some side effects. Here are a few, based on the three most common treatments: surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.


It takes time to heal after surgery, and the recovery time is different for each woman. You may be uncomfortable for the first few days. However, medicine can usually control the pain. Before surgery, you should discuss the plan for pain relief with your doctor or nurse. After surgery, your doctor can adjust the plan if you need more pain relief.

If you have surgery to remove a small tumor on the surface of the cervix, you may have cramping or other pain, bleeding, or a watery discharge.

If you have a hysterectomy, the length of the hospital stay may vary from several days to a week. You may also experience hot flashes and menopause occurs immediately.

It is common to feel tired or weak for a while, you may also have bladder and bowel problems. The doctor may restrict your diet to liquids at first, with a gradual return to solid food. Most women return to their normal activities within 4 to 8 weeks after surgery.

Radiation therapy:

Side effects depend mainly on the dose of radiation and the part of your body that is treated. Radiation to the abdomen and pelvis may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or urinary problems. You may lose hair in your genital area. Also, your skin in the treated area may become red, dry, and tender.

You may have dryness, itching, or burning in your vagina. The radiation may also make your vagina narrower.

Although the side effects of radiation therapy can be distressing, your doctor can usually find ways to relieve them.


The side effects of chemotherapy depend mainly on the specific drugs and the dose. The drugs affect cancer cells and other cells that divide rapidly:

Chemotherapy can cause a poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or mouth and lip sores. Chemotherapy can cause you to lose your hair. The hair will grow back, but it may be somewhat different in color and texture.

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