A study completed in Norway adresses the importance of serving women who have survived cervical cancer. 91 patients who had been treated with radiotherapy and who were more than 5 years out from treatment were included in this research. Radiotherapy included both external beam and intra-cavity radiation. Participants did not receive chemotherapy. Pelvic pain included any pain in hips, low back. groin, or radiating pain.
Radiation of the pelvis is known to be a cause of pelvic fractures, proctitis, cystitis, enteritis, and it can also cause pelvic lymphedema, lumbosacral plexopathies, and radiation myelopathy. According to the authors, pain in cancer survivors is associated with anxiety, depression, and decreased quality of life.
38% of those surveyed described chronic pelvic pain. Of those with pelvic pain, 60% reported severe intestinal problems, 43% reported severe bladder problems. Intestinal and bladder issues reported by those in the study without pelvic pain were, respectively, 36% and 7%. Measures of anxiety and depression were all higher in the group who reported pelvic pain than in the group without pelvic pain. Compared to the general population who has not had pelvic radiation for cervical cancer, the incidence of low back pain and hip pain are higher in those in this study.
The implications of the study include that women who survive cervical cancer need to have chronic pelvic pain assessed as well as managed. Suggested options for pelvic pain management include a multi-disciplinary approach with analgesics, physical therapy, interventional procedures, and pyschosocial treatments. This study may be a useful tool when speaking with physicians who serve a population of women who have gone through any pelvic radiation therapy.