What Are the Risks of Radiation Therapy for Colon Cancer?

Some risks of radiation therapy for colon cancer outlined.

Risks of Radiation Therapy for Colon CancerThe risks of radiation therapy for colon cancer primarily apply for younger patients. Most colon cancer patients are in their 60s or above but many people are diagnosed from their 20s to their 50s.

In addition to the normal side effects of radiation therapy for colon cancer a chief risk of radiation therapy is the development of cancer due to increased radiation exposure. This can happen a few decades down the line for colon cancer patients so it is important to be aware of. Granted, the risk it not large but it is something doctors want patients to be aware of. Dr. Murty explains further in the video below:

Murali G. Murty MD:  Typically, colon cancer patients are in their 60s. However, we do see patients in their 50s or younger. These are some of the important that they should know.

In addition to the normal side effects that I previously outlined about the side effects of radiation treatment, younger patients may experience a slight increase in cancer from radiation in the irradiated regions, meaning radiation not only kills cancer, but it can also cause cancer. This usually happens 10 to 30 years down the line, if it happens. It is a very small risk and it’s my duty to mention that to patients. I explain to them that the benefits far outweigh the risks in this situation and I have seen a number of patients in their 70s or 80s who have been treated with radiation treatment 30-40 years ago who have lived perfectly normal lives, have full control of their disease, and have had no radiation related cancers up to this point. So, overall there is a very small risk that a patient might experience a cancer from radiation 10 to 30 years down the line. However, this risk is very low compare to the benefit of local control that they experience from treatment itself.

Dr. Murali Murty
Dr. Murty received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry - New Jersey Medical school. He completed his internship in internal medicine and residency in radiation oncology at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia where he served as Chief Resident. He has done research and published on the radiotherapeutic treatment of squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck of unknown origin and total mesorectal excision of rectal cancers. His publications also include a book chapter on the radiation of vascular tumors of the ocular fundus.


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