|The following article features coverage from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2019. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.
Pulsed dose rate (PDR) brachytherapy, a common treatment for cervical cancer is often associated with adverse effects of vaginal dryness, pain, stenosis, and sexual dysfunction. However, according to study findings presented at ESMO Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, early vaginal moisturizing may help to mitigate dyspareunia, a persistent, recurrent pain associated with sexual intercourse, and improve the overall quality of life for patients with cervical cancer.
The study included a total of 89 women, ages 24 to 83 years old, with cervical cancer who underwent PDR brachytherapy between 2016 and 2018 at the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain. Forty-two women were assigned to the control group and received standard care. Forty-seven women were assigned to the experimental group and practiced early vaginal moisturizing after undergoing PDR brachytherapy. All patients were assessed at baseline and at 1, 3, and 6 months posttreatment.
Women in both groups experienced overall pain. However, women in the experimental group gradually reported lower pain scores from baseline to 6 months posttreatment. There was little change over the assessed time points in dryness and bleeding for both groups. However, the experimental group had a notably decreased incidence of dyspareunia compared with the control group.
A total of 48.3% of women avoided sexual intercourse, 22 in the control group and 21 in the experimental group. Some women reported a decreased importance of sexuality during treatment and abstained from intercourse. Interestingly, education provided by nurses at discharge helped to alleviate fears and aide in facilitating healthy sexuality. The researchers concluded that early vaginal moisturizing decreases the incidence of dyspareunia, allows patients to resume sexual relationships, and improves quality of life and a sense of well-being.
Fernández P. Vaginal moisturizing post PDR-pulse dose rate brachytherapy. Presented at: ESMO Congress 2019; September 27-October 1, 2019; Barcelona, Spain. Abstract 5093.