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Internal Radiation or Not??

Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2009

After 6 chemo treatments for Uterine Cancer Stage IV, my CA 125 has gone down from 825 before surgery and chem to 7 and my PET CT Scan just reported "normal". Now my Radiologist wants to do 3 treatments of internal radiation. I think it is just prevention of possible reoccurance. I am not sure I want to do it after finding out the side effects of burning vagina areas causing burning during urination, vaginal dryness, etc. And then having to do vaginal excercises 3 times a week and inserting an item in my vagina 3 times a week for the rest of my life! They said because otherwise the scar tissue will close up your vigina!

Did this happen to you? How was your experience with the internal radiation? Would you do it again or not?

- Linnie

beckyracn's picture
Posts: 324
Joined: May 2009

I received 5 rounds of internal radiation for cervical ca and it wasn't that bad. A bit invasive, but the doc & nurses were so compassionate. They did not tell me about the dilator use until after the treatments ended, so it was an added bonus after all that I'd already been through. If you have regular intercourse, you don't have to rely on the dilator to keep the scar tissue at bay. I never experienced the burning during urination, but other problems with the bladder. The tumor had attached to my bladder, so it received large doses of external radiatin also. Would I do it again? Next month I will celebrate one year of dancing with NED!!!

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lindaprocopio's picture
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

The dilator is no more invasive or wierd than inserting a tampon; absolutely no big deal at all. And I have noticed no side effects from my interval radiation, none at all. You've come this far to beat your cancer back; why not finish up the recommended protocol? There are different TYPES of vaginal brachy, so have a big discussion about that with your radiation oncologist. The type I had was lined up each of the 3 times with a CT-scan (no IV contrast) instead of an Xray. So I didn't have to havce a rectal marker or a catheter. That's the kind I'd try to get if I were you, as it is much less invasive and absolutely painless and fast. You are in and out of the office in less than an hour, with the radioactive material in you less than 8 minutes.

Best wishes with your decision. I feared brachy more than the chemo or external pelvic radiation. And it turned out to be the easiest of all the treatments.

susie1143's picture
Posts: 109
Joined: Aug 2009

I just finished my Brachy treatments 2 weeks ago. I had the same as Linda with no marker. At first, I was nervouse but it wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared. Since I was Stage 1C, I had the Brachy to hopefully prevent any reoccurance. Please check with your doctor since there are other methods of Brachy. I was told by my radiation oncologist that some doctors admit the patients for a few days. Lucky for me, mine is up to date with the neweer methods.

Regarding the dilator, so far I have not even used it since I am married. This was an area that my husband is more than happy to assist. No pain since the brachy. The only thing was the first week going to the bathroom a lot. Was told that I could use Imodium and since then no problems.

Posts: 572
Joined: Oct 2009

Linnie- By now you likely have made your decision about internal brachytherapy but thought I would share my experience. I have Stage 2 B uterine cancer which went into my cervix as well. My radiation plan included 25 external treatments and 3 internal treatments. The most uncomfortable internal treatment was the first one which required a urinary catheter be in place. This first procedure total time was about 6 minutes of radiation and 2 hours of prep which included placement of the Foley urinary catheter and placement of the "cylinder" into my vagina into which the radiation "seed" is placed. The cylinder needs to be the largest size you can stand to ensure opitimal contact with the radiation. Also you will wear a pair of "Granny Panties" :) which are specially designed underwear which will keep the cylinder up in your vagina where it belongs....not slipping out as they want it as tight to the vaginal cuff as possible. Let me reassure you that the radiation staff is so kind during all of this manipulation. Also warm blankets are readily available.
A CT scan is performed to determine the mapping of the radiation plan. This takes about an hour or so to complete. Then I was wheeled into a small lead lined room with music playing and a nice tropical piece of artwork which I didn't look at as I am clausterphobic and closed my eyes during the 6 minutes I was in the room. A radiologist came in with a Gieger counter wand and check for radiation before and after the implant was threaded up into the cylinder. It feels funny as the radiation implant comes out of the wall and goes through a tube into the cylinder. You can't feel that at all. After my first internal treatment I got into my car and cried. I think I was just so tired of radiation and it was uncomfortable. The next two treatments were not uncomfortable or painful and total time in clinic was one hour and total radiation time was 6 minutes. I had Ativan to take if I thought I needed it for the second and third treatments but I didn't need it. When I got home and the first time I urinated it burned. I could tell that if my urine touch my vaginal opening that was where the burning sensation was coming from. I got some ProShield cream from the hosptial and applied that externally near my vaginal opening where it burned when I urinated. Get the ProShield cream before you have any internal radiation. The cream won't likely be carried by a Walgreens or CVS. In a pinch just apply vaseline but don't use that long because it could lead to urinary track infection. I am now one month post brachytherpy and see my radiation oncologist on Tuesday of this week. I am doing OK except for the diarrhea that I have off and on....but nothing a little Immodium won't cure. I have my next chemo on Dec. 11 and Dec. 30 and then I should ( God willing) be done with my treatment. I had my surgery on June 11th so it has been a long six months and I am sooooo looking forward to the new year and my life as a survivor. Take care and God Bless!

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