Preventing Vaginal Stenosis

Preventing vaginal stenosis after brachytherapy for gynaecological cancer: an overview of Australian practices

Letitia Lancaster ,

Department of Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia

Abstract

Despite advances in brachytherapy techniques in recent years, patients still experience a variety of treatment-related complications.

Vaginal stenosis is a recognised toxicity of brachytherapy for the treatment of gynaecological cancer.

It can result in long-term sexual dysfunction and painful vaginal examinations; however, it is generally accepted that it may be prevented by regular sexual intercourse or the use of vaginal dilators.

The incidence of vaginal stenosis is variably reported in the literature, while preventative strategies and compliance are infrequently described and rarely evaluated.

A telephone survey of radiation oncology centres in Australia was undertaken as a quality improvement activity to determine best practice for the use of vaginal dilators for the prevention of vaginal stenosis, by way of identifying similarities of practice.

The results revealed a lack of consistency for all variables, including which patients are advised to use vaginal dilators, the time to initiate use, frequency of use, insertion time and duration of use.

These findings suggest that current methods for preventing radiation-induced vaginal stenosis warrant formal evaluation in order to establish an evidence base for practice.

European Journal of Oncology Nursing Volume 8, Issue 1 , March 2004, Pages 30-39

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