Skip to Content
How to talk to a doctor about advanced ovarian cancer >>

Cervical Cancer, Ambulatory Care

Cervical cancer

starts in the cells of the cervix. The cervix is the opening of the uterus.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding after sex
  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge between your normal monthly periods
  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge after menopause
  • Low back pain
  • Swelling in your legs from fluid buildup

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Warm, tender, swollen, red, and painful arm or leg
  • Suddenly feeling lightheaded and short of breath
  • Chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough
  • Coughing up blood

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Blood coming from your rectum, or from your vagina when it is not time for your period
  • Blood in your urine or bowel movement, or black bowel movements

Treatment for cervical cancer

may include any of the following:

  • Radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells with high-energy x-ray beams.
  • Chemotherapy medicine kills cancer cells.
  • Trachelectomy is surgery to remove the cervix and upper vagina. It may be an option if you have early stage cervical cancer and want to give birth to a child in the future.
  • Hysterectomy is a surgery to remove your uterus. Your fallopian tubes and ovaries may also be removed. Healthcare providers may also remove nearby lymph nodes.

Manage your cervical cancer:

  • Do not smoke. Smoking increases your risk for new or returning cancer. Smoking can also delay healing after treatment. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Liquid can help reduce swelling in your legs from fluid buildup. Liquid also prevents dehydration. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Eat extra protein and calories. Foods may taste different during cancer treatment. You may not feel like eating, and you may lose weight. Your healthcare provider may recommend you eat foods that are high in iron, such as beef, spinach, and beans. Ask for more information about the best eating plan for you.
  • Exercise as directed. Exercise prevents muscle loss and can help improve your energy level and appetite. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed. Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

Prevent cervical cancer:

  • Practice safe sex. Use a condom to help stop the virus from being transmitted during sex.
  • Ask about the HPV vaccine. Your healthcare provider may recommend you receive the vaccine to prevent HPV.
  • Have Pap smears as directed. The Pap smear can show abnormal cells that may be cancer in an early stage. Cancer that is in an early stage that may be easier to treat.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or oncologist as directed:

You will need to see your oncologist for ongoing tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.