As cancer survival rates increase, so do the numbers of consultations about the side effects of cancer treatments, many of which greatly affect a patient’s quality of life. Gynecological side effects are among the most common in women who have had breast, ovarian, uterine, endometrial or other types of gynecologic cancer, mainly due to the hormone treatments often used in treating these diseases.
“After cancer treatment, some patients go through early menopause and others suffer atrophy or premature aging of the genital area, with symptoms like vaginal dryness, stinging or itchiness, which in addition to affecting a woman’s daily life, can also affect sexual relations”, states Dr. Javier de Santiago, head of the Gynecologic Oncology Service at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid. The specialist goes on to say that his department has taken the decision to “offer a pioneering therapeutic support service for these patients with the aim of improving their quality of life” in which hyaluronic acid injections play an important role.
The gynecology team at MD Anderson Madrid is applying this novel treatment using hyaluronic acid injections as a solution for gynecologic or vaginal atrophy. “We use the same hyaluronic acid as that used on the skin or facial wrinkles and its application is simple – it can be injected in the doctor’s office and in sessions lasting about 15 minutes” explains Dr. Santiago who also says the effects of this local treatment can last between 6 months and a year, depending on the individual patient and type of atrophy involved. “There are even some patients who, after being treated, see so much improvement that they do not require further sessions”.
MD Anderson Madrid recruits patients for a multicenter study
Although hyaluronic acid has been shown to be quite effective in clinical practice, that fact that it is a relatively new treatment means it is still undergoing studies that seek to broaden the series of patients involved and who undergo these treatments with the aim of increasing the amount of data collected to support the use of the technique.
With that in mind, in the coming months MD Anderson Madrid will start recruiting patients at the center to take part in the multicenter study that aims to collect further clinical data supporting the effectiveness of hyaluronic acid injections in the treatment of gynecologic and/or vaginal atrophy and aging in women. Dr. de Santiago encourages any women meeting the criteria of the study to try to join the trial, as doing so will give them “access to the treatment completely free of charge”.
The head of the Gynecologic Oncology Service at MD Anderson Madrid explains that hyaluronic acid is particularly recommended for “the young patient with breast cancer and premature aging as a result of hormone blocking caused by the drugs used in cancer treatments, the patients who has undergone gynecologic radiation therapy and has suffered changes and/or atrophy in her genitals affecting her normal daily life or her sex life, etc.”. Likewise, patients affected by non-gynecologic tumors who have suffered early menopause as a result of chemotherapy can also benefit from this technique.