High-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy with or without external beam radiotherapy in the treatment of primary vaginal carcinoma: long-term results and side effects

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2003 Jul 15;56(4):950-7. doi: 10.1016/s0360-3016(03)00217-7.


Purpose: To report toxicity, prognostic factors, and outcome of HDR brachytherapy in the primary management of vaginal carcinoma.

Methods and materials: A total of 86 patients receiving radiotherapy for primary vaginal carcinoma were analyzed. FIGO stages 0-IV were found in 6, 17, 38, 20, and 5 patients, respectively. Early stages of disease (Stages 0-II) were treated with intravaginal HDR brachytherapy alone (n = 26/86), whereas locally advanced diseases (Stages II-IV) received HDR brachytherapy combined with external beam therapy (n = 55/86). Teletherapy only was used in 5 of 86 cases, all of which were treated with palliative intent (i.e., advanced stage, poor general status). Recurrence-free intervals as well as overall- and disease-specific survival rates were determined for all patients. Frequencies of side effects and the influence of prognostic factors and treatment modalities on outcome were analyzed.

Results: Five-year overall survival rates for Stages 0-IV diseases were 83%, 41%, 43%, 37%, and 0%, respectively. Corresponding 5-year disease-specific survival rates were 100%, 92%, 57%, 59%, and 0%. Regarding 5-year recurrence-free intervals, values of 100%, 77%, 50%, 23%, and 0% (Stages 0-IV) were found, respectively. Tumor stage was the most significant prognostic factor. Chronic side effects G 1-4 were observed in <or=2% (bladder, rectum) and 1%-6% (vagina).

Conclusion: In the treatment of primary vaginal carcinoma, HDR brachytherapy appeared to be well-tolerated and as effective as LDR brachytherapy techniques.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brachytherapy / adverse effects
  • Brachytherapy / methods*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / radiotherapy*