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Radiat Res. 2016 Apr;185(4):341-8. doi: 10.1667/RR14272.1. Epub 2016 Mar 28.

GI Consequences of Cancer Treatment: A Clinical Perspective.

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Consultant Gastroenterologist in Pelvic Radiation Disease, The GI Unit, Department of Medicine, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London, SW3 6JJ, United Kingdom.


In an era when extensive research is being funded to mitigate the radiation risks of a human traveling to Mars or the potential effects of a nuclear detonation in an urban environment, it is difficult to understand why the medical and research community remains largely uninterested in pelvic radiation disease (PRD), a condition that afflicts half a million patients every year after radiotherapy for pelvic cancer. There has been significant progress in understanding the nature of normal tissue injury, especially as it affects the GI tract. Clear clinical data exist on how best to assess and improve symptoms and there are a number of options for how to modulate the underlying progressive pathophysiology of PRD. Annually, there are more patients who develop PRD than inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Despite the similarity in PRD and IBD symptoms, the same expertise that promotes assessment, treatment and disease-modifying approaches as standard of care in IBD is almost nonexistent for those suffering from PRD, and as a result the unmet need is enormous. Curing or controlling cancer without addressing quality of life is no longer acceptable when half of all patients diagnosed with cancer live for 10 years after treatment. For those patients afflicted with PRD it can cause significant misery, and this situation is unacceptable; investment in training and research cannot be delayed any longer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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