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. You’ll also need to understand how the operation will change parts of your life.
Finding out about the operation
Pelvic exenteration is a major 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. You may find it helpful to have a relative or close friend with you during the appointments, so they can support you.
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 a similar operation. These organisations include Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and The Ileostomy & Internal Pouch Support Group.
Physical preparation for the operation
Pelvic exenteration is only possible for a small number of people. Before having the operation, you will have investigations and scans to make sure pelvic exenteration is suitable for you.
For a cure to be possible, the cancer must be contained in the pelvis. Your doctors will do tests to make sure the cancer hasn’t spread outside of the pelvic area. This usually involves having one or more scans and possibly other tests. If any cancer is found outside the pelvis, the operation would not be successful and so will not 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 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 you’ve had it.