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What Is Involved in Cervical Cancer Surgery?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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Cervical cancer surgery is often the most effective way to rid the body of harmful cancer cells. The type of surgery performed depends on a number of factors, including the stage of the cancer, how far the cancer has spread, and the overall health of the patient. In the early stages of the disease, cervical cancer surgery may involve the use of procedures such as a loop electrosurgical excision procedure, also known as LEEP, or a cone biopsy. In these procedures, only a small portion of the cervix is removed, and fertility may be able to be preserved. In the more advanced stages of the disease, all or part of the uterus may need to be removed, ending the chances of future pregnancies.

The loop electrosurgical excision procedure, or LEEP, is a common type of early stage cervical cancer surgery. This is an outpatient procedure that is often performed in the doctor's office. The LEEP involves removal of abnormal tissue from the cervix with the use of heat, and a sample of this tissue is sent to a laboratory for further testing. A cone biopsy is the removal of a small wedge of the abnormal cervical tissue so that it can be tested for the presence of cancerous cells. The cone biopsy is frequently performed during a LEEP procedure.

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Laser surgery or cryosurgery are often used when the cancer is still in the early stages. Laser surgery destroys the cancer cells by burning them from the cervix. Cryosurgery works by freezing the cancer cells. Both of these types of cervical cancer surgery are performed as outpatient procedures and frequently prevent the need for more invasive types of cervical cancer surgery. The doctor will likely order frequent testing to make sure that the cancer does not come back after these procedures are completed.

In the more advanced stages of cervical cancer, the abnormal cancer cells may spread to other areas of the reproductive system, including the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. When this occurs, more invasive surgery is required, and fertility is no longer able to be preserved. A total hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus as well as the cervix. A radical hysterectomy also requires the removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and surrounding lymph nodes. Along with the loss of fertility, the patient will no longer have a menstrual period and may need hormone therapy for the remainder of her life.

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