UC Health testing laser therapy for breast cancer treatment side effects

Posted at 5:40 PM, Nov 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-30 17:40:21-05

CINCINNATI -- Sex is a tough subject to discuss for a lot of people, especially when there's some kind of dysfunction.

It's a very real complaint for women who go through breast cancer treatments. But there may be a bit of hope on the horizon, as UC Health is running a study on a laser that could help breast cancer survivors.

Last year, Julie Snyder was among the 250,000 women who got an invasive breast cancer diagnosis. She had a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation -- with side effects.

"One of the big ones was the sexual side effects of drying out," she said. 

That makes intimacy difficult because, under those circumstances, sex can cause tearing and bleeding.

"My husband and I had a great sex life before breast cancer, and he stuck by me the whole time," Snyder said. "He was awesome. It makes you even closer."

That's why Snyder enrolled in a clinical trial at UC Health that's trying to see if a laser can treat vaginal dryness, to help restore a normal love life.

Dr. James Whiteside is one of the leaders on the study, examining how effective the laser may be.

"What we're trying to do is create a new therapy that will be hope for this problem," he said.

Nurse practitioner Cindy Dehlinger explained that the laser damages tissue and encourages the cells to repair themselves, and it builds collagen. 

"The laser is a non-hormonal therapy that may be more effective than the topical agent with lidocaine," (a local anesthetic) Whiteside said.

Snyder said the results have been "amazing."

Whiteside said they're still enrolling patients in the trial, with a goal of 70 total. Any potential patients should keep in mind that results may vary. Anyone interested in participating can call 513-584-4100.