About Gynecologic Cancer and Pelvic Pain

Andrea Branas, MSE, MPT, Andrea Cheville, MD, Lora Packel, M.S.P.T.
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: September 8, 2002

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Copyright © 2002 by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission in writing from the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania

What is pelvic pain?

Pain or discomfort located in the lower abdomen, buttocks, groin, pelvic area or upper thighs is called pelvic pain.

How do I know if I have pelvic pain?

You may have pelvic pain if you have pain in one of the areas listed above and the pain lasts for more than three months after finishing your cancer treatment

Pelvic pain may:

  • come and go or be constant
  • feel like an aching/burning, stabbing, or shock-like feeling
  • be described as "discomfort" rather than pain.
  • occur at rest or with activity.

The pain may occur when you:

  • wear constrictive clothing
  • sit for long periods of time
  • have sexual intercourse
  • urinate
  • have a bowel movement
  • become constipated

Please let your doctor or nurse know if you have any discomfort that does not go away or disrupts your normal activity.

What can I do about pelvic pain?

The first step is to talk with your doctor about the pain. We have specialized treatment to alleviate your symptoms. Treatment for each person may be different, based on your symptoms. Your treatment may include:

  • exercise
  • medications
  • hormonal creams
  • vaginal dilators
  • specialized stretches
  • acupuncture
  • lubricants

What causes pelvic pain?

Treatments for gynecologic cancer work to eliminate cancer cells. They also effect normal cells and tissue. This can lead to scar tissue that affects your nerves, joints and muscles, resulting in pain.

If pelvic pain is limiting your sexual activity, you can learn more by reading the About Gynecologic Cancer and Sexuality Helpful Fact Sheet.