Pelvic exenteration is a big operation that isn’t possible for everyone. You’ll need tests to make sure you’re fit enough to have the operation, and you’ll also need to understand how the operation will change aspects of your life.
Finding out about the operation
Pelvic exenteration is a big operation that will mean changes to your sex life and how you go to the toilet.
Recovery afterwards can be difficult, both physically and emotionally. To help you make an informed decision about whether to go ahead with the operation, it’s important you understand what’s involved. Your surgeon or specialist nurse can explain the operation to you and support you in deciding whether it’s right for you. It can be helpful to involve your partner (if you have one) or someone close to you in these discussions, so they can support you in your decision.
It can also be helpful to talk to someone who has had the operation. Your surgeon or specialist nurse may be able to arrange this for you. Some support organisations may also be able to put you in touch with someone who has had similar surgery.
Pelvic exenteration is only possible for a small number of people. Before having the operation, you will have investigations and scans to make sure it’s suitable for you.
For a cure to be possible, the cancer must be contained in the pelvis. So, your doctors will do tests to look for cancer elsewhere. This usually involves having one or more scans and possibly other tests. If any cancer is found outside the pelvis, the operation wouldn’t be successful and so won’t be done.
Your doctors also need to make sure you’re physically able to cope with the operation and it isn’t too risky for you. You may have tests, such as heart and lung tests, to check your general health and fitness.
If you’ve been having problems with eating and have lost weight, you may be given extra help and support with your diet to help prepare you for the operation. If you smoke, stopping smoking or cutting down before your operation will help reduce the risk of complications after your surgery.