Objective Conventional radical hysterectomy with pelvic lymphadenectomy (RHL) for early-stage cervical cancer is associated with significant bladder, anorectal, and sexual dysfunction. Nerve-sparing modification of RHL (NS-RHL) has been developed with the aim to reduce surgical treatment-related morbidity. Postoperative radiation therapy (RT) is offered to patients with unfavorable prognostic features to improve local control. The aim of the study was to assess self-reported morbidity of various types of treatment in cervical cancer patients.
Methods Self-reported symptoms were prospectively assessed before and 1 and 2 years after treatment by the Dutch Gynaecologic Leiden Questionnaire.
Results Included were 229 women (123 NS-RHL and 106 conventional RHL). Ninety-four (41%) received RT. Up to 2 years (response rate, 81%), women reported significantly more bowel, bladder, and sexual symptoms compared with the pretreatment situation. No significant difference was found between the conventional RHL and NS-RHL with the exception of the unexpected finding that a smaller percentage in the NS-RHL group (34% vs 68%) complained about numbness of the labia and/ or thigh. Radiation therapy had a negative impact on diarrhea, urine incontinence, lymphedema, and sexual symptoms (especially a narrow/short vagina).
Conclusions In the current longitudinal cohort study, treatment for early-stage cervical cancer was associated with worse subjective bladder, anorectal, and sexual functioning, irrespective of the surgical procedure used. Postoperative RT resulted in a significant deterioration of these functions. The results have to be interpreted with caution in view of the study design and method used.
- Cervical cancer
- Radical hysterectomy
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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.