Brachytherapy is an effective treatment used to treat the top of the vagina to reduce the risk of cancer recurring.
At your first treatment the radiation oncologist will perform a vaginal examination to determine the size of applicators to use for your treatment. The applicators used at Epworth Radiation Oncology are ovoids (much like marshmallows on a stick) or a cylinder. The radiation onoclogist will determine which is most suitable for you. The radiation oncologist will then insert the applicators. You may feel a little discomfort, but this should not cause you pain.
The catheters are then connected to the treatment machine, where the radiation source can pass into the applicators. Your treatment will be given over four sessions, each session lasting about twenty minutes.
You will not require any special preparation for this treatment, and are free to go home after each treatment.
Frequently asked questions
- There are very little side effects associated with vaginal brachytherapy. This treatment will only deliver a high radiation dose to several millimetres of tissue.
- There may be a change to your bowel habits, but this is very minimal.
- Vaginal Stenosis (reduction in length of the vagina) has been seen in over 50% of women. The use of a vaginal cylinder will help reduce this incidence.
Will I be radioactive?
You will not be radioactive. The radiation source will pass into the applicators and retract back into the machine once the treatment has been delivered. You will not feel, see or hear the radiation. The brachytherapy team will then scan the room to ensure the source has travelled back into the machine. The doctor and nurse will then remove the applicators.
What happens after my brachytherapy treatment?
Before leaving, our nurses will instruct you on the use of the vaginal cylinder and provide you with Ovestin cream. An appointment will be made to see your radiation oncologist in four to six weeks time.