Cervical Cancer: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. These cells may spread to nearby organs, lymph glands, or distant organs. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. This form of cancer can be cured most of the time, especially when found at an early stage. It is usually found at a very early stage through a Pap smear.

If the cancer is in an early stage, you may need to have only a small part of the cervix removed. This type of surgery may allow a woman to become pregnant later. In other cases, removal of the cervix and uterus (hysterectomy) may be the better choice. Treatment also may include radiation or chemotherapy. You may get medicines to help with chemotherapy or radiation side effects, such as nausea and vomiting or tiredness.

Finding out that you have cancer is scary. You may feel many emotions and may need some help coping. Seek out family, friends, and counsellors for support. You also can do things at home to make yourself feel better while you go through treatment. Call the Canadian Cancer Society (1-888-939-3333) or visit its website at www.cancer.ca for more information.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You may get medicine for nausea and vomiting if you have these side effects.
  • Eat healthy food. If you do not feel like eating, try to eat food that has protein and extra calories to keep up your strength and prevent weight loss. Drink liquid meal replacements for extra calories and protein. Try to eat your main meal early.
  • Get some physical activity every day, but do not get too tired. Keep doing the hobbies you enjoy as your energy allows.
  • Take steps to control your stress and workload. Learn relaxation techniques.
    • Share your feelings. Stress and tension affect our emotions. By expressing your feelings to others, you may be able to understand and cope with them.
    • Consider joining a support group. Talking about a problem with your spouse, a good friend, or other people with similar problems is a good way to reduce tension and stress.
    • Express yourself through art. Try writing, dance, art, or crafts to relieve tension. Some dance, writing, or art groups may be available just for people who have cancer.
    • Be kind to your body and mind. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking time to do things you enjoy can contribute to an overall feeling of balance in your life and help reduce stress.
    • Get help if you need it. Discuss your concerns with your doctor or counsellor.
  • If you are vomiting or have diarrhea:
    • Drink plenty of fluids (enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water) to prevent dehydration. Choose water and other caffeine-free clear liquids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
    • When you are able to eat, try clear soups, mild foods, and liquids until all symptoms are gone for 12 to 48 hours. Other good choices include dry toast, crackers, cooked cereal, and gelatin dessert, such as Jell-O.
    • Take care of your urinary tract to prevent problems such as infection, which can be caused by cervical cancer and its treatment. Limit drinks with caffeine, drink plenty of fluids, and urinate every 3 or 4 hours.
  • If you have not already done so, prepare an advance care plan. An advance care plan provides instructions to your doctor and family members about what kind of care you want if you become unable to speak or express yourself.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have severe vaginal bleeding. You are passing blood clots and soaking through a pad each hour for 2 or more hours.
  • You have blood or pus in your urine.
  • You have pain in your back just below your rib cage. This is called flank pain.
  • You have a fever, chills, or body aches.
  • It hurts to urinate or you have to urinate often.
  • You cannot control your bladder.
  • You have groin or belly pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You feel very sad, anxious, or both.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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