Radiation therapy is a necessity for many cancer patients and is often a life saving technique for some forms of cancer. For many cancer patients who are about to undergo radiation therapy, there is a large misunderstanding as to what symptoms are related to cancer and should be managed at home, and what symptoms may require additional medical intervention.
Fro some radiation therapy patients, there is a marked risk for developing a condition known as enteritis. Simply put, enteritis is a medical term used to describe the inflammation and swelling that can occur in the large and small intestine as a direct result of radiation therapy. While this complication is common in radiation therapy patients, and typically occurs in the early stages of treatment, many patients do not realize full onset of symptoms until six weeks into treatment.
When you are undergoing radiation therapy, it is important to ask your doctor about the ways to effectively reduce the risk for enteritis during your treatment. When suffering from the gastrointestinal complication, symptoms will develop as abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, nausea, and even changes in weight. When managed effectively, these symptoms can be kept to a minimum.
To reduce the risk for developing this complication in the first few weeks of radiation therapy, you will want to avoid consuming foods that are high in dairy, wheat, nuts, seeks, and foods high in caffeine or consumption of alcohol. Instead, replace these food and beverages with items that include fish, poultry, applesauce and even bananas. In doing so, you can help to protect your intestinal walls from the impact of potential inflammation.
In very expanded cases, cancer patients develop complications that include expanded enteritis that is not effectively reversed with medications and diet and, ultimately, may require surgery to alleviate risks associated with stricture development. In these cases, the temporary placement of a feeding tube may be necessary to ensure you get the proper nutrients and reduce secondary complications.
When diagnosed with cancer, it is important to become familiar with the treatment recommendations given to you, including the side effects of radiation therapy. In doing so, you can have a far more healthy outcome to your treatment and reduce the complications associated with inflammation in your intestinal tract.
Sources: Principles and Practices of Radiation Therapy, by Charles M. Washington