PDR (Pulsed Dose Rate) Brachytherapy is one of the treatments of choice for cervical cancer. Main side-effects are vaginal dryness, dyspareunia, pain, stenosis and sexual dysfunction that impacts on the patient’s well-being and on quality of life. To evaluate the efficacy of vaginal moisture to reduce dryness and pain associated with PDR Brachytherapy in cervical cancer patients treated at Catalan Institute of Oncology-Barcelona.
A quasi-experimental randomized study. From 2016 to 2018 all women were assessed by nurses 4 times: basal at discharge, 1st, 3rd and 6th month post-treatment. Experimental intervention with moisturizing versus standard care. Inclusion criteria; women diagnosed of cervical cancer receiving PDR. Probabilistic sampling of patients assigned 42 to control group CG and 47 to experimental group (EG). Variables: vaginal hydration, pain, age, ethnicity, comfort perceived, socio-demographic, tobacco, sexual relationship and couples. Instruments: LENT/SOMA to assess vaginal toxicity and visual numeric for pain.
Of the 96 eligible, some excluded for relapse, or study failure. N = 89 women. Mean age: 52.78 + 12.8 (range 24-83) years old. Ethnicity; 63.8% white, Latina 3.1%, Arabic and Asiatic 0.8% each and gypsies 1.6%. Education; 3.1% illiteracy, primary 32.2%, secondary 25.2% and university 7.2%. Smokers 29.2%. For variable pain was 15-15-17-15 in CG and 20-17-15-13 in EG for consecutive points. Dyspareunia was present in 0-4-8-7 patients and 3-0-2-2 in EG. Dryness was 1-9-13-12 in CG and 6-1-8-10 in EG. Bleeding was 17-5-5-7 in CG and 16-10-0-6 in EG. Only significance differences on dryness variable. A total of 48.31% women avoid sexual intercourse, 22 (24.71%) in CG and 21 (23.59%). No significance differences.
An early vaginal moisturizing post-brachytherapy decreases the appearance of dyspareunia, allows start sexual relationships and improves the quality of life and sense of well-being. However some patients do not give the necessary importance to sexuality and it is something that they put aside during the treatment. Nursing education for patients at discharge helps to facilitate a healthy sexuality.
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All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.