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Anal Cancer Radiation treatment involves radiation to the pelvic region and is accompanied by diarrhea, abdominal cramping, burning upon urination, pain and burning upon defecation, frequency of urination and some symptons that may mimic urinary tract infection.

In addition, there is significant burning and irritation of the skin around the buttocks, groin, and vaginal areas - all or some of the pubic hair may be lost and may not return.

Vaginal Stenosis is perhaps the most long lasting and most difficult side effects of anal cancer radiation in addition to becoming menopausal if you are not already in this stage. For some the stenosis is a seriouis problem, especially if their partner is of the long or wide variety.

Several weeks following completion of radiation treatment (generally 32 doses) you should have your gynecologist gently sepeate any scaring that has taken place. They will do this using their fingers and a speculum. You should ask your doctor for vaginal dilators. There are several types but the best (which you will not be given but must be paid for - about $150) are MILEX VAGINAL DILATORS. These are far superior and work much better than the hard candle type you will be given from your oncology doc. You should ask for the vaginal-Rectal Dilator Set MX25.

In conjuction with your dilators, you should purchase vaginal jelly and ask for a perscription of Estradil Cream.

The dilators need to be used twice a day for about 15 minutes each. The technique for using them is to coat them with jelly and a drop of estradial; place them on a hard low chair or stool and sit on them. Thats right....sit on them so that they can open the scar tissue. This needs to be done ....well forever. If you stop using them because it seems like the vagina is opened (as I did) the scar tissue will close back up and you will have to begin all over again. After a long long time, you may be able to cut back to several times a week.

If needed, return to your gynocolgist after about a month and have her gently pull apart tissue again. There will be some bleeding with the dilation and that is perfectly fine.

I wish I had had this information because maybe I would have been able to have my vagina fully opened by now. I know several people who used this technique recommended by Dr. Keil of Keil Urogynocology in Denver and they all have had tremendous success..

Good luck ladies!