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How can you prevent cancer after a hysterectomy?

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Quick Answer

Hysterectomies, or removal of the uterus and sometimes other reproductive organs, can reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. In some cases, hysterectomies are performed to treat uterine, cervical or ovarian cancers, according to WebMD, thereby reducing the risk of the cancer reoccurring. However, hysterectomy increases the risk of vaginal cancer, states the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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Full Answer

Vaginal cancer risk increases with several factors, including smoking, increased age and exposure to diethylstilbestrol in utero, states the ASCO. Vaginal cancer prevention and early detection strategies include stopping smoking, having regular diagnostic tests such as Pap smears, and using condoms during sexual encounters.

A partial hysterectomy patient has an intact cervix and therefore may still develop cervical cancer, according to Mayo Clinic. Among those patients, the Gardasil vaccine can work to prevent cervical cancer, states ASCO. Patients who have had cervical cancer have a higher risk of vaginal cancer.

When hysterectomy includes removal of the ovaries, the risk of developing ovarian cancer is low but not nonexistent, explains Mayo Clinic. Ovarian cells can move through the reproductive system during menstruation and develop from the same embryonic cells as peritoneal tissues, so ovarian cancers can occur outside of the ovaries even once they are removed. When ovarian cancer occurs outside the ovaries, it is called primary peritoneal cancer.

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