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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Oct 1;84(2):e181-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2012.03.065. Epub 2012 Jun 5.

Mean absorbed dose to the anal-sphincter region and fecal leakage among irradiated prostate cancer survivors.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Cancer Epidemiology, Department of Oncology, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.



To supplement previous findings that the absorbed dose of ionizing radiation to the anal sphincter or lower rectum affects the occurrence of fecal leakage among irradiated prostate-cancer survivors. We also wanted to determine whether anatomically defining the anal-sphincter region as the organ at risk could increase the degree of evidence underlying clinical guidelines for restriction doses to eliminate this excess risk.


We identified 985 men irradiated for prostate cancer between 1993 and 2006. In 2008, we assessed long-term gastrointestinal symptoms among these men using a study-specific questionnaire. We restrict the analysis to the 414 men who had been treated with external beam radiation therapy only (no brachytherapy) to a total dose of 70 Gy in 2-Gy daily fractions to the prostate or postoperative prostatic region. On reconstructed original radiation therapy dose plans, we delineated the anal-sphincter region as an organ at risk.


We found that the prevalence of long-term fecal leakage at least once per month was strongly correlated with the mean dose to the anal-sphincter region. Examining different dose intervals, we found a large increase at 40 Gy; ≥ 40 Gy compared with <40 Gy gave a prevalence ratio of 3.8 (95% confidence interval 1.6-8.6).


This long-term study shows that mean absorbed dose to the anal-sphincter region is associated with the occurrence of long-term fecal leakage among irradiated prostate-cancer survivors; delineating the anal-sphincter region separately from the rectum and applying a restriction of a mean dose <40 Gy will, according to our data, reduce the risk considerably.

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