Gastrointestinal Cancers are common cancers for which Radiation Therapy plays a central role in treatment. Radiation Therapy is commonly used alongside surgery and chemotherapy to treat esophageal, gastric, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, colon, rectal, and anal cancers. Sometimes, radiotherapy is often given with chemotherapy before surgery to make the tumor smaller for surgical removal. At other times, radiation therapy is given after surgery to prevent the cancer from coming back. Finally, radiation therapy is sometimes given with chemotherapy or alone to treat the cancer without surgery.
Radiation Therapy technologies are rapidly evolving to improve patient outcomes and decrease side effects. At Weill-Cornell, Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT), Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT), Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS), and Intraoperative Radiotherapy (IORT) are all novel, emerging technologies that being studied in clinical trials and available for patient treatment. There are also new drugs and agents that are being 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.