Brachytherapy can be offered as an innovative and targeted approach to treat rectal cancer. Like any medical intervention, brachytherapy is not without potential side effects, which may vary from one patient to another.

Side Effects of Brachytherapy

When considering the side effects of rectal brachytherapy, it's important to note that experiences can vary widely among individuals. Some effects may be temporary and resolve shortly after treatment, while others might persist over the long term. Here's a breakdown of acute (short-term) and potential long-term side effects:

Acute (Short-Term) Side Effects

  • Rectal Discomfort:

    Short-term discomfort or fullness in the rectum during or after the procedure.

  • Bowel Changes:

    Temporary changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation.

  • Urinary Symptoms:

    Mild, short-term urinary symptoms like increased frequency, urgency, or urinary incontinence.

  • Fatigue:

    General fatigue during treatment, which typically resolves after the treatment is complete.

Potential Long-Term Side Effects

Most side effects gradually disappear in weeks or months after treatment. But some side effects can continue. Or you might notice some that begin months or years later.

  • Sexual Dysfunction:

    There is a possibility of both short-term and long-term sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction, although this is more commonly associated with other pelvic radiation methods.

  • Bowel Changes:

    Some individuals may experience persistent changes in bowel habits over the long term.

  • Rectal Inflammation or Ulceration:

    In rare cases, inflammation or ulceration of the rectal lining may have longer-term effects.

It's essential for individuals undergoing rectal brachytherapy to maintain open communication with their healthcare team. Regular follow-up appointments allow healthcare providers to monitor and address any side effects, providing supportive care and guidance as needed. Remember that advancements in medical techniques and personalized treatment plans aim to minimize potential long-term side effects.

The Precise Answer for Tackling Rectal Cancer

Download the rectal cancer patient guide (pdf)