A consultant at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust is giving young women with cervical cancer the hope that one day they could become mums following radical surgery to save their womb.
Mr Jafaru Abu is helping women in the East Midlands to preserve their fertility by providing Total Laparoscopic Radical Trachelectomy surgery. This procedure for early stage cervical cancers preserves the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Unlike the traditional operation that usually involves removing the womb by performing a radical hysterectomy this alternative procedure removes the cervix (the neck of the womb) and surrounding tissues using keyhole surgery.
NUH is one of a few Trusts in the UK to provide this operation by keyhole surgery. By performing the surgery laparoscopically the patients are able to recover quicker, can generally go home within two to three days of surgery and have reduced scaring without compromising the effectiveness of the surgery and the cure.
Incidence of cervical cancer has fallen in the UK as a result of the successful NHS screening programme, however, more women in their late twenties and early thirties are being diagnosed with early stages of cervical cancer. According to the latest cervical cancer statistics from Cancer Research UK, the peak rate of cervical cancer cases occurs between 25-29 years of age. Many of these women have not had the chance to start or complete their families.
Total Laparoscopic Radical Trachelectomy surgery gives this group of women the chance to be able to conceive either naturally or by in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and with careful monitoring they can have a healthy pregnancy and delivery by caesarean section.
Not all young women with this type of cancer are eligible for fertility preservation surgery but for patients who are suitable for this treatment the overall long term survival is the same as having a radical hysterectomy.
Rebecca, from Nottingham, underwent Total Laparoscopic Radical Trachelectomy surgery after being diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Rebecca, 35, said: “I received my diagnosis shortly after getting married, while my husband and I were in the process of trying to start a family. Being offered this surgery gave me some hope to cling onto that I would one day be able to become a mum. Along with the amazing support from Mr Abu and his colleagues at NUH it also made the treatment for the cancer easier to deal with.”
Mr Abu said: “I’m pleased that I can help these young women and give them the chance to have a child. Early detection of cervical cancer through a smear test can save lives and fertility. The cervical cancer vaccination can help but it doesn’t give 100% protection against cervical cancers, so women should never ignore their call for a smear test.”
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is taking place until 28 January. The awareness raising week focuses on encouraging women to have their smear tests regularly.