Colorectal and Anal Cancers affect a large number of Americans. More than 100,000 Americans were diagnosed with colon cancer this year. More than 40,000 people were diagnosed with rectal cancers, and more than 5,000 people were diagnosed with anal cancers.
Radiation Therapy is commonly used alongside surgery and chemotherapy to treat colon, rectal, and anal cancers. In rectal cancers, radiotherapy is often given with chemotherapy to make the tumor smaller for surgical removal or given after surgery to prevent it from coming back. Anal cancers are often treated with chemotherapy and radiation without surgery.
Colorectal and Anal Cancers are areas where radiotherapy technologies are rapidly improving patient outcomes and decreasing side effects. At Weill-Cornell, Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT), Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), and Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) are all new technologies that are offered for treating colorectal and anal cancers. There are also new drugs and agents that can be used along with the radiation treatment. Your Radiation Oncologist can provide more information about these agents and technologies.
The side effects you may experience will depend on the area being treated, the type of radiation used and whether or not you also received chemotherapy. Before treatment, your doctor will describe what you can expect.
Some patients experience minor or no side effects and can continue their normal routines.
If at any time you develop side effects, tell your doctor or nurse. He or she can give you medicine to help.