NYU Langone doctors at Perlmutter Cancer Center remain an important part of your care after treatment for vaginal cancer. You may see your doctor every three to six months for follow-up tests, such as a pelvic exam or Pap test of vaginal cells. Colposcopy, biopsy, and imaging tests may also be performed to ensure the cancer has not returned.
Specialists at NYU Langone can also develop a plan that includes rehabilitation, integrative health services, and psychological counseling to help you cope with the condition.
Women’s Health Rehabilitation
After treatment for vaginal cancer, you may be referred to a women’s health program at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation. Through this program, a physiatrist, a doctor who specializes in rehabilitation medicine, can prescribe physical therapy to help address any weakness or fatigue you may be experiencing after surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. An exercise program can aid in improving your balance, flexibility, and mobility, which may be affected by cancer surgery.
Sometimes surgery or radiation therapy for vaginal cancer can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support the organs within the pelvis, including the bladder, bowel, and rectum. Weak pelvic floor muscles can cause urinary incontinence and bowel incontinence.
Physical therapists at Rusk Rehabilitation can teach you exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments, helping to manage both forms of incontinence.
Surgery for vaginal cancer that includes the removal of lymph nodes in the pelvis or groin may damage lymph vessels. These vessels carry lymph fluid, which contains bacteria and waste products, away from the body’s organs and tissue. This damage can cause lymph fluid to build up, a condition called lymphedema, which can lead to swelling and discomfort in the legs.
Physiatrists at Rusk Rehabilitation can prescribe physical therapy to help manage and prevent lymphedema after surgery. They may also recommend specialized massage techniques and wearing special wraps around your legs. They can make you aware of the early warning signs of lymphedema, such as aching, tingling, or a feeling of fullness in the groin, legs, or feet. The sooner management starts, the less likely the condition will progress.
Supportive and Integrative Health Services
Supportive care specialists at Perlmutter Cancer Center manage ongoing cancer-related or treatment-related symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, and stress, helping improve your quality of life.
Integrative health therapies, such as acupuncture, may relieve fatigue due to radiation therapy. Yoga and massage therapy can help reduce stress and enhance wellbeing.
NYU Langone doctors encourage healthful eating as a part of vaginal cancer follow-up care. Oncology dietitians at Perlmutter Cancer Center can provide an assessment of your current eating habits and counsel you on nutrition.
Neuropathy, a potential side effect of chemotherapy, leads to nerve damage that can cause numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness. This often occurs in the hands, feet, arms, and legs, but it can also occur in other parts of the body.
Doctors at Rusk Rehabilitation prescribe medication to help ease the discomfort caused by neuropathy. They also offer physical therapy to prevent it from interfering with your balance and strength.
Psychological and Social Support
Support groups and one-on-one counseling sessions with a psycho-oncologist, a healthcare provider trained in addressing the needs of people with gynecologic cancer, are available at Perlmutter Cancer Center.
Counseling may help you and your family members cope with stress or anxiety. Social workers can help you address financial matters or logistical challenges that may arise during treatment, such as problems with insurance reimbursement or traveling to your doctor appointments.
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