Toxicity Management in the Era of Changing Treatment Paradigms for Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer

Anjalika R. Kumar, Nina N. Sanford

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: Treatment paradigms for locally advanced rectal cancer have evolved over the last several decades. Patients now have several different “standard” options with different radiation courses, sequencing of treatment modality and in some scenarios potentially avoidance of surgery. In this context, an updated understanding of treatment toxicity is needed to help patients make informed decision regarding their treatment. Recent Findings: The RAPIDO study showed no difference in cumulative rate or grade of toxicity between short and long course radiation. Based upon our experience, patients with short course radiation tend to present with acute symptoms 1–2 weeks after completion of radiation, while those receiving long course chemoradiation have symptoms towards the end of treatment. Treatments that may be helpful particularly for short course radiation toxicity include Bentyl (dicycloverine) and steroids. Summary: The most common toxicities from radiation are due to bowel and rectal inflammation leading to diarrhea, cramping, and urgency. The combination of surgery and radiation can exacerbate these symptoms. The most common late toxicity in patients receiving doublet chemotherapy is neurotoxicity. Rates of infertility differ in men versus women; all efforts for fertility preservation should be completed prior to initiation of any therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-59
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Colorectal Cancer Reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Enteritis
  • Proctitis
  • Radiation toxicity
  • Rectal cancer
  • Trimodality therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Oncology
  • Gastroenterology


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