What are the side effects of cervical cancer treatment?

Side effects of advanced cervical cancer treatment, which includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, can be as follows:

  • Surgeries usually cause infertility. 
  • Radiation will often cause fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, irritation of the bladder or low blood counts immediately after treatment. Long-term side effects of radiation include scarring and tightening of the vagina, vaginal dryness, leg swelling and weakened bones.
  • There are many kinds of chemotherapy with various side effects. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, hair loss, fatigue, nerve pains and changes in menstruation.

One option for those who must undergo treatment for cervical cancer is surgery—either a cone biopsy or a hysterectomy (the removal of the uterus or womb and, sometimes, the fallopian tubes and ovaries). For those who go through with a hysterectomy, you're not necessarily out of the woods. Complications such as bleeding or infection can occur. And obviously, your fertility will be affected. If the ovaries are not removed, menopause may occur sooner in life. If they are removed, you'll enter menopause immediately, and experience menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

Radiation therapy can also be employed, though it will destroy the ovaries and induce immediate menopause. And if you end up taking hormone replacement therapy to counteract the fact that estrogen production has halted, side effects can include breast tenderness, bloating and depression.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.