Objective: To investigate the compliance and clinical efficacy of vaginal dilators (VDs) as an educational intervention in patients receiving pelvic radiation therapy (RT) for endometrial and cervical malignancies.
Material and methods: This is a single institution, retrospective chart review. Patients undergoing pelvic RT for endometrial or cervical cancer at our center were educated about the use of a VD starting 1 month after completion of RT. The patients were assessed after 3 months of prescribing VD. The demographic details and physical examination findings were extracted from medical records.
Results: We identified 54 female patients at our institution during the 6-month duration. The median mean age of patients was 54 ± 9.9 years. Twenty-four (44.4%) had endometrial cancers and 30 (55.6%) were diagnosed with cervical cancers. All patients received external beam RT, 38 (70.4%) received a dose of 45 Gy, and 16 (29.6%) patients received 50.4 Gy. Brachytherapy was also received by all patients, 28 (51.9%) received 5 Gy × 2 fractions, 4 (7.4%) received 7 Gy × 3 fractions and 22 (40.7%) received 8 Gy × 3 fractions. The compliance with VD use was 36 (66.6%) patients. Twenty-two (40.7%) used 2–3 times a week, 8 (14.8%) used <2 times per week and 6 (11.9%) used only once a month, and 18 (33.3%) did not use the VD post-treatment. Per vaginal (PV) examination findings of the patient’s vagina with normal mucosa were evaluated in 32 (59.3%) and adhesions were found in 20 (37.0%) and 2 (3.7%) were unable to examine due to dense adhesions. During examination 12 (22.2%) had bleeding PV, however, the majority of the patients, 42 (77.8%) experienced no bleeding PV. Out of the 36 patients who used a VD, it was found to be efficacious in 29 (80.6%) of patients. Upon stratification of efficacy with a frequency of VD, 72.4% (n = 21) efficacy was seen in patients using frequent VD as prescribed 2–3 times per week.
Conclusion: The compliance and efficacy of VD use after radiation to pelvic in cervical and endometrial cancers at 3 months follow-up were found to be 66.6% and 80.6%, respectively. This shows that VD therapy is an effective interventional tool and patients should receive specialist education about vaginal stenosis as toxicity at the outset of treatment.