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relations after vaginal radiation

mtw
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2004

I've just had a total hysterectomy 3 weeks ago for clear cell endometrial cancer (luckily stage 1a) and my doctors are recommending radiation therapy. One of the side effects is stenosis (scarring and tightening, shortening) of the vagina which will make intercourse painful. I am about 15 years younger than the average age for this cancer and happilly married and the thought of how this will affect our intimate lives makes me very sad. Does any one have any advice about how to minimize this side effect of radiation, or just sharing your experience? Perhaps it's not always the case that radiation has this unfortunate effect? Any hopeful feedback would help. (I posted a similar query earlier today but didn't put the central concern in the subject space, so I'm reposting).
Thanks.

groundeffect
Posts: 651
Joined: Mar 2003

Have you considered getting a second opinion? I know you refer to "doctors", but if they're all in the same group or area, they might not be the best to obtain other opinions from. Fran Drescher describes her choice to not have radiation in her book "Cancer Schmancer"-she did a lot of research, and ultimately decided to forego radiation. I believe she was about 40 when she was diagnosed.

Are there other side effects to consider?

If it is possible for you to consult with another oncologist, I think it would be a good thing for you to do. Sometimes different schools of thoughts exist regarding treatment. I wouldn't depend solely on local doctors in my area, because I feel they don't have the exposure doctors in bigger cities have.

mtw
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2004

Thanks for the input. I am at a very big well known cancer center in a big city and I am also reading medical abstracts about the pro/con arguments for radiation at this early stage. Because the cell type is relatiely rare the studies are very small and results sort of inconclusive. If the effects of radiation aren't that bad (which is what I'm trying to find out) I think I'll do it. They are only proposing 3 sessions each 2 weeks apart. I think the dose is sort of high but is very local, vagina only with little leakage to nearby organs. It would be useful to hear from other women who have had this done, but this bullitin board doesn't seem to get a lot of action!

groundeffect
Posts: 651
Joined: Mar 2003

It sounds as though you're in good hands! Yesterday I went to my monthly support group meeting (for gynecologic cancers), and we once again had discussion about how everyone had their surgery out of town, and most had their post surgery treatment out of town, so please bear me my out-of-town thinking! I did a search with vaginal radiation in the search box at the top of this page, and there were results from a variety of cancer survivors.

I'm a little surprised as few women seem to visit this board. I believe there are many more cases of uterine cancer annually than ovarian, and there are many more postings on that board.

brendamobley
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2002

This did happen to me after radiation. I also had some loss of sensation that hasn't come back. The pain is not extreme, but it can be annoying. On the other hand, my cancer had gone to stage 3C and at least for now, three years later, I seem to be okay, although my doctor is ranting at me to get back in for a checkup. Your body does have some ability to fight off cancer cells by itself, but foregoing radiation was a risk I wasn't willing to take. I did have 45 days of radiation, so that probably was quite a lot. One thing is for sure, I still don't let it keep me from my boyfriend. :) I'm 42 now and still doing okay.

AuthorUnknown
Posts: 1564
Joined: May 2006

i had a total hysterectomy last july 8, 2004. I was diagnosed with stage 1b-grade 3 endometrial cancer. I underwent twenty five outer radiation and 3 vaginal for about 10 minutes a piece, one per week. I found that the outer radiation was by far more difficult as there were bowel and bladder side effects that have since resolved themselves. I am glad that I took the most aggressive form of radiation treatment. i am hoping for the best. My surgeon prescribed estrogen tablets inserted locally for several weeks to help heal the soreness as a result of radiation. I am a bit reluctant to take the estrogen even if it is local-but my surgeon who is world renowed keeps insisting that it does not place me in a risk for recurrence if I take estrogen vaginally. Although the estrogen is soothing the area, i am reluctant.Anybody know anything about any risk factors for this local sort of estrogen.

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