Help for Radiation Proctitis
Along with killing cancer cells, radiation therapy may also damage cells that make up the lining of the intestines. Radiation enteritis or enteropathy typically begins in the second or third week of treatment and leads to abdominal pain and diarrhea in 75- 90% of patients receiving radiation for prostate, rectal, pancreatic, colon, uterine or cervical cancer. Radiation proctitis is specific to the rectum, often causing fecal urgency with cramp-like rectal pain, and bloody stools. The first-line therapy for radiation proctitis with bleeding is sucralfate enemas, which often have a rapid and dramatic effect. Sucralfate provides a protective coating to protect the injured lining of the rectum. The effect of sucralfate enemas is superior to the commonly used therapy with steroids and 5-amino-salicylic acid. Sucralfate enemas are not commercially available but can be compounded by our pharmacy. Ask our pharmacist about other customized therapies to relieve side effects of cancer therapy.