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Radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer

Surgery to remove the womb in the case of cervical cancer

Woman being comforted ahead of a radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer
A radical hysterectomy is a procedure to treat cervical cancer. It is used in the early stages of the disease, before it has spread to other parts of your body. It involves removing your womb (uterus) as well as various other related organs and elements of the surrounding tissue and glands.

'Laparoscopic' means that the operation is performed using a type of keyhole surgery. This is a minimally invasive approach to surgery, which can offer faster recovery and less pain that traditional open surgery.

This type of hysterectomy will only be suitable for some people with cervical cancer. Your consultant oncologist or gynaecologist will let you know if it's a good choice for you.

If you would like to know more about our options for treating cervical cancer, call or book online today for a consultation with one of our many specialists.

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your womb (also known as your uterus). Your womb is an organ in your pelvis where a baby develops and grows - it makes up part of your reproductive system, which also comprises your ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and vagina.

A hysterectomy is usually performed by a consultant gynaecologist, which is a doctor who specialises in conditions that affect your reproductive system. There are three main types of hysterectomy, which are:

Total hysterectomy

When your consultant removes your womb and cervix (the neck of your womb).

Subtotal hysterectomy

This is a procedure during which your consultant removes the main body of the womb, while your cervix stays in place.

Radical hysterectomy

This is a procedure to remove and treat cervical cancer in its earlier stages. It involves removing:

  • Your womb
  • Your cervix
  • Your fallopian tubes
  • Part of your vagina
  • Ovaries
  • Lymph glands
  • Fatty tissue

It is possible to perform a radical hysterectomy using different surgical techniques, including:

A vaginal hysterectomy

During a vaginal hysterectomy, your womb and cervix are removed through an incision at the top of your vagina.

An abdominal hysterectomy

During an abdominal hysterectomy, an incision will be made in your tummy (abdomen) to remove your womb. It might be recommended if your womb is enlarged by fibroids or pelvic tumours and it's not possible to remove it through your vagina.

A laparoscopic hysterectomy

Also known as keyhole surgery, a laparoscopy uses a small tube containing a telescope (laparoscope) and a very small video camera that is inserted through an incision in your tummy. Your surgeon can use the camera and video to insert specialist instruments through the incisions to remove your womb, cervix, and other parts of your reproductive system.

On this page, we will share more information about a radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer.

At Circle Health Group, we understand that the reason for undergoing a hysterectomy often causes immense emotional challenges as well as physical, and that the prospect of having a hysterectomy can be unnerving.

Our network of consultant gynaecologists is here to support you emotionally and physically throughout your journey to better health, ensuring you experience outstanding care before, during and after surgery. You will be treated by a consultant-led, multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals who are all committed to delivering excellent, tailored-to-you care that puts your needs first.

To find out more about having a radical hysterectomy to treat cervical cancer, call us or book a consultation with one of our consultants online.

You might need a laparoscopic radical hysterectomy to treat cervical cancer if other treatment options, such as chemotherapy, have not effectively treated the cancer. Surgery is usually performed to treat early-stage cervical cancer. Key symptoms of cervical cancer include:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Pain in your lower tummy
  • Changes to your vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex

These symptoms can be caused by a variety of conditions, so it is important to have them checked by your doctor to understand their root cause.

Read more about cervical cancer screening.

You will usually be able to find an appointment with a specialist within 48 hours of getting in touch. This will usually start with your consultant taking a detailed medical history and talking through your symptoms, your diagnosis as well as any treatment you have already had and how it worked.

Your consultant might arrange for further testing, such as an ultrasound scan or a CT scan, whether to monitor your cancer or to identify where the disease is within your abdomen before planning a radical hysterectomy. If they feel that this is the right treatment for you, they'll talk you through their reasons as well as explaining all the alternatives. The final decision is yours.

Your consultant is there to answer any questions you might have about your condition and ease any concerns you might experience about undergoing hysterectomy surgery. We understand that making the decision to have a hysterectomy is a major one, and we welcome any questions you might have about the procedure, however trivial they might seem.

The wait between your initial consultation and undergoing treatment will not be long. When you go private with Circle health Group, our team will book you in for surgery as soon as is necessary, and we don't cancel or rearrange operations except in extreme circumstances.

You will have a general health assessment before the procedure to ensure you are well enough for surgery - this usually includes a chest X-Ray to ensure your lungs are healthy and an ECG to check that your heart is healthy.

You won't be able to eat or drink for several hours before having a hysterectomy because you will be under general anaesthetic, meaning you won't be awake during it. You can usually drink water for up to two hours before the surgery, but your consultant will ensure you are given these instructions before surgery.

If you smoke, we advise that you stop smoking in the lead-up to the procedure. This is to ensure you don't get a chest infection after the surgery and that you recover as quickly and effectively as possible.

You will be given general anaesthetic to ensure you are not awake during the procedure. Your consultant will begin by making a small incision around your bellybutton. Your consultant will then fill your tummy with gas and a laparoscope (a small thin tube with a camera and light at the end of it). This allows your consultant to examine the inside of your pelvis clearly and insert specialist instruments inside through the laparoscope to remove your ovaries and fallopian tubes. Your consultant will usually also remove your uterus and cervix.

How long does a radical hysterectomy take?

The procedure typically takes a minimum of two and a half hours, and your incisions will be closed with dissolvable stitches, which will dissolve naturally in the days following your surgery.

You will wake up from surgery with some pain and discomfort in your pelvis, but your healthcare team will ensure you have medication to ease this pain. They will help you get up and out of bed to normalise your blood flow after surgery.

You will need to have someone drive you home from hospital. You can take a taxi home, which we can call for you, but it's always best to have support when you get there.

Your radical hysterectomy recovery at home

No recovery period looks the same. Each person experience recovery differently depending on several factors, such as:

  • Your physical health
  • Your emotional health
  • Your age

You should be able to leave hospital around five days after surgery, but this depends on your individual circumstances.

It takes up to eight weeks to fully recover after having a laparoscopic hysterectomy, but some people recover sooner. During this time, you should continue to perform the exercises set by your physiotherapist, who you will meet with after surgery. They will help you recover movement and muscular strength while you recover. Rest as much as possible and avoid heavy lifting. Try brisk walks and gentle swimming for exercise but be gentle with yourself as you recover.

If your job does not involve manual work or heavy lifting, it may be possible to return after four to eight weeks. Do not drive until you can comfortably wear a seatbelt and safely perform an emergency stop without any pain. This can be anything from three to eight weeks after surgery.

Your consultant will provide you with a more detailed recovery timeline based on your individual needs and circumstances.

We answer your commonly asked questions about having a radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer.

Can you still get pregnant after a radical hysterectomy?

No, you cannot get pregnant after a radical hysterectomy. This is because parts of your reproductive system that are crucial in helping you get pregnant have been removed.

Do you need sanitary towels after a hysterectomy?

It's normal to have bloody vaginal discharge for several days to weeks after a hysterectomy, so you'll need to wear sanitary pads during this time.

Is menopause worse after a hysterectomy?

Because menopause happens suddenly after a hysterectomy, your symptoms can be more severe (hot flushes, migraines, vaginal dryness, and mood swings). This isn't the case for everyone, and you can speak with your doctor about how to effectively manage your symptoms.

What age is too late for a hysterectomy?

This is a safe procedure for women of most ages, even those over 60. Speak with your consultant about whether your age will interfere with your procedure - but it shouldn't.

What should I wear at home after a hysterectomy?

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing while you recover at home to avoid irritating the areas where your consultant made incisions in your tummy.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Private en-suite rooms as standard
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

If you want to know more about a radical laparoscopic hysterectomy and find out if it's the right treatment for you, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in March 2023. Next review due March 2026.

  1. Hysterectomy: how it is performed, NHS
  2. Surgery to remove the womb, Cancer Research UK
  3. Outcomes of laparoscopic radical hysterectomy, National Library of Medicine

Specialists offering Cervical cancer - laparoscopic radical hysterectomy

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