Nerve-sparing and individually tailored surgery for cervical cancer

Lancet Oncol. 2010 Mar;11(3):292-301. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(09)70191-3.


Cancer of the cervix is the second most common cancer in women worldwide, with about 500,000 new cases and 273,000 deaths reported annually. Ideal surgical management of cervical cancer should reduce early and late morbidity without compromising oncological disease control. Type of surgical radicality in early cervical cancer should be a consequence of exact preoperative and intraoperative assessments of risk factors. During the past 15 years, substantial progress has been made in understanding the neuroanatomy of the autonomic pelvic plexus. This progress has resulted in individually tailored surgery for cervical cancer. The concept of preservation of autonomic nerves during radical hysterectomy has become standard in many oncogynaecological centres. Nerve-sparing radical hysterectomy and individually tailored surgery, in comparison with standard radical hysterectomy, have led to a much improved quality of life. Since 2008, there has been a new classification of radical hysterectomy, which includes nerve-sparing techniques. 5-year survival in early stage cervical cancer is 88-97% and more than 50% of women are younger than 50 years of age. Thus, we must take into consideration the quality of life of these patients. In this Review, we focus on the neuroanatomy of the pelvis and the possible damage of autonomic nerves, and suggest options for the sparing of these nerves during surgery for cervical cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cervix Uteri / innervation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypogastric Plexus / surgery
  • Hysterectomy / methods*
  • Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Pelvis / innervation
  • Precision Medicine*
  • Rectum / innervation
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / prevention & control
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / surgery*