What Are the Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Colon Cancer?

Common side effects from radiation therapy for colon cancer.

side effects of radiation therapy for colon cancerPatients are often concerned about the side effects of radiation therapy for colon cancer.  As Dr. Murty describes in the video below, there are very few side effects of radiation in the treatment of colon cancer. The side effects are generally limited to the area that is treated and in the case of colon cancer, mostly it’s the abdominal cavity.

In the short term, side effects from radiation therapy for colon cancer could involve skin irritation due to radiation. However, that irritation is minimal due to the low dose of radiation that is generally administered and also because structures deeper down in the body are being targeted and that skin irritation can be dealt via a moisturizing agent. There can also be some softening or loosening of stool and possible nausea which improve after we are done with radiation within a few weeks of completing radiation. Dr. Murty describes more side effects of radiation therapy for colon cancer in the video below:

Murali G. Murty MD:  The patients are often concerned about the side effects of radiation in the treatment of colon cancer.  Let’s talk about a few of them. There are very few side effects of radiation in the treatment of colon cancer.  The side effects are limited to the area that we are treating and in this case, mostly it’s the abdominal cavity.

So, firstly in the short term side effects could involve the skin which could be irritated from radiation, however, that irritation is minimal due to the low dose of radiation that is generally administered and also because we are treating structures deeper down in the body and that skin irritation can be dealt via a moisturizing agent and that’s all that required.  There can also be some softening or loosening of stool and possible nausea which improve after we are done with radiation within a few weeks of completing radiation.

In the long run, there could be some narrowing of the colon or the small bowel, the small intestine that’s in the radiation field causing difficulty of passage of food or fecal matter which may require surgery to repair.  Those side effects in the long term are very-very few and very limited.  Overall, treatment is very easy to tolerate and the side effects are very limited in number.

 

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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