Many cervical cancer survivors experience fatigue, insomnia and hot flashes years later, a new study reports.
However, it’s hard to know if these symptoms are caused by the cancer or by the treatment for the cancer, the researchers said.
“In most cases, it is probably a combination,” said study author Stephanie Smet, a resident in radiation oncology at the Medical University of Vienna.
For the study, Smet and colleagues looked at nearly 1,200 women who were treated for locally advanced cervical cancer. The women were followed for an average of 27 months. The average age of the patients was 49, but their ages ranged from 22 to 91.
During the follow-up period, 64 percent of the women reported fatigue at least once. Half of the women said they had hot flashes, and 43 percent reported insomnia. Most had mild to moderate symptoms, the findings showed.
Severe or disabling symptoms were reported by 4 percent of women with fatigue, 2 percent of those with hot flashes and 3 percent of those with insomnia, according to the report.
The study was to be presented Friday at the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) meeting in Vienna. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
“Our study shows that around half of women with locally advanced cervical cancer are, at some point, suffering from mild to moderate fatigue, insomnia and hot flashes. These symptoms could have a serious impact on patients’ daily life, possibly influencing how they feel in their professional, social and family life,” Smet noted in an ESTRO news release.
“More and more women diagnosed with this type of cancer are surviving for longer, thanks to advances in radiotherapy. This is a relatively young group of patients, so many will possibly face decades of coping with their symptoms,” Smet concluded.
Cervical cancer affects more than 500,000 women worldwide each year, the researchers said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on cervical cancer.