Radiation-induced small bowel disease: latest developments and clinical guidance

Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Disease
Rhodri Stacey, John T Green

Abstract

Ionizing radiation is commonly used to treat a number of malignancies. Although highly effective and now more targeted, many patients suffer side effects. The number of cancer survivors has increased and so there are more patients presenting with symptoms that have arisen as a result of radiotherapy. Radiation damage to small bowel tissue can cause acute or chronic radiation enteritis producing symptoms such as pain, bloating, nausea, faecal urgency, diarrhoea and rectal bleeding which can have a significant impact on patient's quality of life. This review outlines the pathogenesis of radiation injury to the small bowel along with the prevention of radiation damage via radiotherapy techniques plus medications such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, statins and probiotics. It also covers the treatment of both acute and chronic radiation enteritis via a variety of medical (including hyperbaric oxygen), dietetic, endoscopic and surgical therapies.

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