There are many pros and cons to getting a hysterectomy for cancer. The advantages include a reduced risk of the cancer spreading and a reduced risk of the cancer returning after chemotherapy and radiation. The disadvantages of getting a hysterectomy for cancer include infertility, early onset menopause, incontinence and an elevated risk of mortality right after the operation. A woman who undergoes a radical hysterectomy will experience hot flashes, skin dryness, low energy and other signs of menopause.
A hysterectomy is the complete removal of the female reproductive organs. If a woman has uterine, cervix or ovarian cancer, she probably will need a hysterectomy for cancer removal. Endometrial cancer or uterine cancer are two common reasons for a hysterectomy for cancer. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus. The doctor can remove the organs via the abdomen or via the vaginal canal, and both types of surgery carry a risk of infection and scarring.
After undergoing a radical hysterectomy for endometrial cancer or another type of reproductive cancer, a woman will have a decreased risk of cancer metastasis, or the spreading of the cancer. The doctor will try to remove all of the cancerous tissues in one operation. After the cancerous organ is removed, the patient has a reduced risk of the cancer returning. Ovarian cancer that has not spread can be virtually eliminated through a hysterectomy for cancer reasons.
After the operation, the woman will need about six weeks to recover completely from the operation. She will need extra cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, to kill any leftover cancer cells still in her body. The treatments will make her feel extremely weak and sick, but there are medications to counteract the side effects.
Surgical menopause for cancer removal or uterine tumors is a side effect of a hysterectomy. The doctor is removing the ovaries, so the woman loses her fertility and her ability to produce estrogen. When estrogen drops dramatically, the body goes into a menopausal state. Symptoms of menopause include vaginal dryness, hot flashes, lack of menstruation, mood swings, low energy and skin dryness. She might choose to take hormone replacement therapy to treat the symptoms.
After a hysterectomy for cancer, a woman might suffer from incontinence, which means that she cannot control her bladder. This side effect might occur several years after the hysterectomy. Another negative aspect of a radical hysterectomy is that the woman has a higher risk of dying immediately after surgery. The reason for this is that surgery can introduce bacteria and viruses into the bloodstream.