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Possible Side Effects

  • Radiation therapy to the abdomen and pelvis may cause more frequent bowel movements, occasionally with diarrhea, abdominal cramping or rectal discomfort. It may also cause more frequent urination, sometimes with a burning feeling or cause a small amount of blood to appear in the urine or stool. These should resolve after treatment ends.
  • Some patients may also feel tired or lose their appetite. This is temporary as well.
  • Possible skin irritation problems depend on your tumor and the areas needing treatment. For anal cancer patients, a pronounced but temporary skin irritation is usually the major side effect from the treatment. It is possible that your treatment may need to be put on hold if the skin reaction is severe. Talk with your doctor and treatment team (including the nurse and radiation therapist operating the radiation machine) about any new symptoms you experience during treatment.
  • Side effects that occur are not the same for all patients. Ask your doctor what you might expect from your specific treatment program.
  • It is likely you will receive chemotherapy in addition to radiation therapy. The side effects from the chemotherapy will depend on the drugs being prescribed and how often you are to receive them. Ask your medical oncologist about chemotherapy side effects you may experience. Side effects often can be controlled with medications or changes in your diet. Tell your doctor or nurse if you experience any of them, so they can work to help you feel better.
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