Severe gastrointestinal complications in the era of image-guided high-dose-rate intracavitary brachytherapy for cervical cancer

Daniel M. Trifiletti, W. Tyler Watkins, Linda Duska, Bruce B. Libby, Timothy N. Showalter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purposes of this analysis are to report a modern series of severe gastrointestinal toxic effects after definitive chemoradiotherapy in the treatment of locally advanced cervical cancer at our institution and to review the existing literature on factors that contribute to toxic effects and preventive strategies and management. Methods: Our institution's cervical cancer cohort was evaluated for patients with late grade 3 to 4 gastrointestinal toxic effects who were retrospectively reviewed for clinical or dosimetric parameters that could have contributed to late toxic effects. A review of the published literature was performed to identify factors associated with late toxic effects, prophylactic agents, and corrective therapy. Findings: Five of 85 patients were identified as having late grade 3 to 4 gastrointestinal toxic effects with a median follow-up of 13.3 months. Two of 5 patients developed late grade 3 toxic effects, and 3 of 5 developed late grade 4 toxic effects. Three of the 5 patients reviewed ultimately required permanent colostomies. Cumulative median dose (in equivalent dose in 2-Gy fractions) of clinical target volume to the hottest 90% was 107.2 Gy, rectal dose to the hottest 2 cc (D2cc) was 81.7 Gy, sigmoid D2cc was 61.7 Gy, and bladder D2cc was 79.5 Gy. No patient had evidence of disease recurrence in the pelvis. One patient developed oligometastatic disease in the suprarenal gland and was successfully salvaged with adrenalectomy. Implications: Despite its risk of toxic effects, intracavitary brachytherapy remains a critical component of the treatment of locally advanced cervical cancer. Even with modern radiotherapy planning and delivery techniques, extra attention is warranted to continue to strive for optimal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-60
Number of pages12
JournalClinical therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015



  • Brachytherapy
  • Cervical cancer
  • Gastrointestinal
  • High dose rate
  • Rectum
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

Cite this