If you’ve had a hysterectomy, you may think you are safe from getting cervical cancer in the future. But, depending on the type of hysterectomy you had, that might not be true.
Cervical cancer is cancer that grows in cells from a woman’s cervix. The cervix is the tube of tissue that connects the bottom of the uterus, also known as the womb, with the vagina.
A hysterectomy is surgery to remove some or all of a woman’s reproductive organs. According to the National Women’s Health Network website, hysterectomy is the second most common surgery for women in the United States during their childbearing years.
There are three basic types of hysterectomy:
This procedure surgically removes the entire uterus. It includes the cervix. According to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health website, this is the most common type of hysterectomy.
In this surgery, only the upper part of the uterus is removed, leaving the cervix in place. This procedure is also called a subtotal or supracervical hysterectomy.
This procedure removes the entire uterus including the cervix, as well as tissue on both sides of the cervix and the upper part of the vagina.
Any of these types of hysterectomy may also include removing one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes. Removal of one ovary with the fallopian tube is called a unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. If both ovaries are removed it is called bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.
Hysterectomies are performed to treat a variety of medical conditions including uterine fibroids, heavy vaginal bleeding, endometriosis, and cancer or pre-cancer of the uterus, ovaries, cervix or inner lining of the uterus.
The type of hysterectomy you have will help determine whether you might still be at risk for cervical cancer.
If you had a partial hysterectomy, your cervix is still intact and you could still develop cervical cancer. You should continue to get regular Pap smears, as recommended by your doctor, to screen for possible cancer.
If you had a total or radical hysterectomy as a treatment for cancer or pre-cancer, your doctor may still recommend regular tests to check for cancer. Even though your cervix is gone, you may still be at risk for cancer in your vagina or nearby tissue.
If your total or radical hysterectomy was for another condition other than cancer, you should not be at risk for cervical cancer in the future, but check with your doctor.
If you are not sure what kind of hysterectomy you had, talk to your doctor to find out. Early detection of cervical cancer is critical to get the best possible results from cancer treatment.
If you have questions about cervical cancer or your reproductive health, talk to your health care provider.
WebMD. Women’s Health: Cervix. Web. January 21, 2016.
National Women’s Health Network. Hysterectomy. Web. January 21, 2016.
U.S. Office on Women’s Health. Hysterctomy. Web. January 21, 2016.
Reviewed January 22, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith