Post vaginal brachytherapy side effects

fighter4life Member Posts: 3 Member
edited September 2022 in Uterine/Endometrial Cancer #1

Diagnosed with stage 1a after total hysterectomy and will meet with radiologist next week. I was told it is up to me if I want to do further treatment as my pathology was very clean. I would be interested in any potential side effects that you may have experienced with this therapy. The limiting factor is my age (68); first opinin was surgery was all that was necessary, second opinion said age was a factor but being in excellent health he was not mandating the radiation. I want to be informed when meeting with the radiologist. Thank you for your time and comments, in advance.


  • NoTimeForCancer
    NoTimeForCancer Member Posts: 3,246 Member

    fighter4life, what TYPE of stage 1A? Is it endometroid or one of the more aggressive? It might be the question to ask. The radiologist, as any doctor, will tell you the decision is always yours to make. I would have to look up the NCCN recommended treatment is.

    Can I ask what you mean by 68 being a limiting factor?

  • BluebirdOne
    BluebirdOne Member Posts: 630 Member

    Welcome and we can help you with your questions. I had 1a, UPSC, or serous uterine cancer, diagnosed 2018. I had the standard surgery, plus brachytherapy. I had sentinel lymph node biopsy, which was negative, but I did have LVSI. The brachytherapy was recommended because the vagina is usually the first place for recurrence. My experience was that the procedure itself is mostly embarrassing but not at all painful. I had a few very minor uncomfortable moments while they were fitting the tube, but that was it. The doctor and technicians were all extremely respectful. I had one day of diarrhea, and a few more days of loose stools, but that was it. Older age is a factor in most cancers, but in endometrial cancer the type of cancer is probably more important for treatment. I second No Time's suggestion that you read the NCCN guidelines for patients as they spell out in layman's terms everything you need to know. I still reread some sections from time to time to see how treatments have progressed in four years since my dx.

    There is a wealth of information (and in our cases knowledge is power) in the pdf and the information is 2022 current.

    Brachytherapy as it was explained to me by my GO, would increase my chances of remaining cancer free, and because my cancer is very aggressive anything that would lessen my chances for a recurrence was very important to me. Everyone has to decide for themselves as to how they handle their risks so I hope you can gather enough knowledge to make a decision that is right for you. Good luck to you and let us know how you are doing.


  • fighter4life
    fighter4life Member Posts: 3 Member

    Hi all,

    Thank you, so much for your responses. Allow me to answer your questions and clarify some details. My original diagnosis was an endometrial endometroid adenocarcinoma FIGO grade 2. My post surgical pathology classified my stage as 1a because the pelvic wash was negative for malignancy, the sentential nodes were negative and there was no malignancy in any tissue samples from the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and everything else they sampled. The depth of invasion was <20%, with a 2 mm intrusion in a 10 mm myometrium. PCR analysis came back negative with no abnormal cells found and no hereditary markers found. I should not have used the term limiting factor but rather the only risk factor is my age. Sorry for all the detail but I am a biochemist and we get crazy with this stuff! LOL! My health is excellent, as I do not take any medications. So, the quandary is if I do the brachytherapy are there chronic effects on the surrounding cells/organs? And I would much rather hear from a women who has actually gone thru the procedure, if the acute effects lasted a few days/weeks, etc? And if anyone has had any long term chronic effects? My OBGYN oncologist is wonderful and male; my radiologist is female and equally great but sometime one needs to hear actual experiences from a person who has gone through the procedure☺️.

    Again, thank you for your time and I hope this answers your well appreciated questions. I am very grateful to you.

  • NoTimeForCancer
    NoTimeForCancer Member Posts: 3,246 Member

    fighter4life, thank you for the explanation. I wanted to go to look at the NCCN (not for patients) assessments. I think the search of 120 pages gave me yours which I snipped below.

    As for the treatment, brachy doesn't hurt, the side effects vary. Some have had more lasting effects than others. Brachy therapy means dilator use afterwards to prevent stenosis and make follow up visits easier. After all the years of doing it, it does lesson over the years.

    As for wanting to know more - no explanations are needed here! You are not alone and lots of support for warriors and their families.

  • fighter4life
    fighter4life Member Posts: 3 Member

    Thank you!

  • woodstock99
    woodstock99 Member Posts: 200 Member

    I had 5 brachy treatments in August 2021 and while not pleasant it was not as bad as I feared.

    Everyone at the radiation facility was as kind and gentle as possible and I took 1/2 a xanax before each session.

    Aside from a UTI, I had no short-term side effects as far as I recall and after a year, to my knowledge, no long-term side effects that I am aware of.

    One does need to use a dilator and frequency, etc has some relation to whether or not you are sexually active or not. It has just become habit for me and I scroll through Facebook.

    It has certainly helped pelvic exams go much easier.

    Hope this helps!

  • Fridays Child
    Fridays Child Member Posts: 271 Member

    Following my surgery for stage 1a, grade 1 endometroid adenocarcinoma in 2012, they did 5 brachytherapy treatments. I asked and received permission to take probiotics and they must have helped, because there was a death in the family and I forgot to take them for a day, maybe 2, and had one episode of mild diarrhea. This was near the end of the treatments. I have had no residual effects.

    I did have a recurrence found in early 2018, a pelvic tumor invading my hip joint, with metastases to my lungs, for which I had chemo and external radiation.

  • Kaleena
    Kaleena Member Posts: 2,088 Member

    Hi Fighter!

    I had 3 HDR (High Dose Radiation) Brachytherapies. That was back in 2006. They would not do pelvic radiation because of how much I scar. The only thing I developed was a mass around my left ureter above my bladder which I ended up having to have stents put in. That was in 2014. So at least 8 years after my treatment. I ended up having a ureter reimplantment so I didn’t have to go every 3 months for stent changes. I had that mass removed in 2018 which had some cells in it but I did not do any treatment since they removed it. I just had surgery in February 2022 to remove a lot of scar tissue which was given me problems. I am 17 years out from my initial surgery back in Sept. of 2005 (dx: Stage 3A Grade 2 Endometrial Adenocarcinoma.)

    My best to you!