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Gynecol Oncol. 2010 May;117(2):281-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2010.01.034. Epub 2010 Feb 18.

Long-term cervical cancer survivors suffer from pelvic floor symptoms: a cross-sectional matched cohort study.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Academic Medical Center, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



The aim of this study was to determine prevalence of and experienced distress from pelvic floor symptoms in cervical cancer survivors (CCS).


For this cross-sectional matched cohort study, we matched CCS, treated in the Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam between 1997 and 2007, to a random female population sample aged 20 to 70 years (reference group). We assessed prevalence of and distress from bladder and bowel symptoms with validated pelvic-floor-related questionnaires. Severe distress was defined as values above the 90th percentile of reference group's symptom domain scores.


One-hundred and forty-six CCS underwent radical hysterectomy and pelvic lymph node dissection (RH and LND), 49 underwent surgery and adjuvant radiotherapy (SART), and 47 underwent primary radiotherapy (PRT). Urinary incontinence and obstructive voiding were reported by each treatment group more frequently than by the reference group and caused more distress. Patients treated with RH and LND reported more distress from most uro-genital symptoms, except from overactive bladder symptoms. Patients treated with PRT reported more distress from each uro-genital symptom than matched controls. The RH and LND group reported more distress from constipation and obstructive defecation than the reference group. Patients who underwent primary or adjuvant radiotherapy reported more distress from anal incontinence than their matched controls.


Treatment of cervical cancer impairs pelvic floor function. Patients treated with PRT report the most adverse effects on pelvic floor function. The results of our study enable physicians to counsel accurately about specific symptoms. Furthermore, to facilitate referral to pelvic floor specialists when bothersome symptoms occur, we recommend evaluating pelvic floor symptoms as a standard during follow-up.

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