What are the possible small intestine complications of conventional external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) for prostate cancer?

Updated: Aug 17, 2020
  • Author: Isamettin Andrew Aral, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Radiation therapy can cause changes to the epithelial lining of the small intestine. Absorption and transit can be impaired. Patients may experience more frequent bowel movements or less well formed stools. Minimizing the extent of the small bowel that is treated is the goal of treatment planning, but this is more difficult with conventional EBRT than with 3D-CRT or IMRT.

Patients undergoing radiotherapy are commonly advised to reduce their consumption of certain high-fiber foods (eg, fruits or uncooked vegetables), which can have a laxative effect. If dietary modifications do not correct frequent bowel movements, patients often receive prescriptions for antidiarrheal medications.

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