What are the possible large bowel 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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Toxicity, including proctitis, may develop in segments of the distal bowel included in the radiotherapy fields. This is observed more commonly with conventional radiotherapy than with conformal therapy. To minimize perianal inflammation, patients are encouraged to exercise good hygiene while receiving therapy.

Symptoms of proctitis can include fecal urgency, mucous discharge, and rectal bleeding. If rectal bleeding or mucous discharge is noted, treatment with steroid-containing suppositories may be necessary. Measurable changes in levels of hemoglobin and hematocrit may occur, albeit rarely. Blood should be tested weekly to assess this possibility.

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