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Side effects

All treatments for cervical cancer carry a risk of side effects.

People respond to treatments in different ways. The type of side effects that may be experienced depends on a number of factors, such as the stage of the cervical cancer and whether there are any compounding health problems. Side effects may appear in the short-term (known as acute side effects) or may appear several months later (long-term side effects).

The accurate and targeted nature of brachytherapy reduces the risk of side effects1,2,3

Short-term (acute) side effects

Immediately after the brachytherapy procedure, you may experience some of the following:4.5

  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Discomfort when passing urine
  • Minor vaginal bleeding after removal of treatment devices
  • Soreness or redness of the vulva or back passage


These short-term side effects are typically mild in nature and usually resolve soon after treatment.

Long-term side effects

Possible long-term side effects of brachytherapy include:4,5

  • Urinary discomfort (bladder problems)
  • Bowel discomfort (loose or more frequent bowel motions)
  • Vaginal fibrosis (less stretchy and narrower) and vaginal dryness


Even if you are affected by some of these long-term side effects, many patients find that they disappear over time.

Discuss your treatment options, and the relative risks of potential side effects with your healthcare professional.

 

References

National Cancer Institute. Available at:   

1. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/cervical/healthprofessional/allpages. Accessed March 2014
2. Viani GA, Manta GB, Stefano EJ, de Fendi LI. J Exp Clin Cancer Res 2009;28:47
3. Han K et al. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2013 Sep 1;87(1):111-9
4. Kim D, Wang-Chesebro A, Weinberg V, et al. Int J Radiation Oncology Bio Phys 2009;75:1329-34
5. Cetina L, Garcia-Arias A, Candelaria M, et al. World J Surg Oncol 2009; 7(19):1–8