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Toward Restored Bowel Health in Rectal Cancer Survivors

Journal article
Authors Gunnar Steineck
H. Schmidt
Eleftheria Alevronta
Fei Sjöberg
Cecilia Bull
D. Vordermark
Published in Seminars in Radiation Oncology
Volume 26
Issue 3
Pages 236-250
ISSN 1053-4296
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Oncology
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Radiology
Pages 236-250
Language en
Keywords quality-of-life, multicenter randomized-trial, localized, prostate-cancer, total mesorectal excision, conformal radiotherapy, radiation-therapy, preoperative radiotherapy, european-organization, hydrogen-sulfide, clinical-trials, Oncology, Radiology, Nuclear Medicine & Medical Imaging
Subject categories Cancer and Oncology


As technology gets better and better, and as clinical research provides more and more knowledge, we can extend our ambition to cure patients from cancer with restored physical health among the survivors. This increased ambition requires attention to grade 1 toxicity that decreases quality of life. It forces us to document the details of grade 1 toxicity and improve our understanding of the mechanisms. Long-term toxicity scores, or adverse events as documented during clinical trials, may be regarded as symptoms or signs of underlying survivorship diseases. However, we lack a survivorship nosology for rectal cancer survivors. Primarily focusing on radiation-induced side effects, we highlight some important observations concerning late toxicity among rectal cancer survivors. With that and other data, we searched for a preliminary survivorship-disease nosology for rectal cancer survivors. We disentangled the following survivorship diseases among rectal cancer survivors: low anterior resection syndrome, radiation-induced anal sphincter dysfunction, gut wall inflammation and fibrosis, blood discharge, excessive gas discharge, excessive mucus discharge, constipation, bacterial overgrowth, and aberrant anatomical structures. The suggested survivorship nosology may form the basis for new instruments capturing long-term symptoms (patient-reported outcomes) and professional-reported signs. For some of the diseases, we can search for animal models. As an end result, the suggested survivorship nosology may accelerate our understanding on how to prevent, ameliorate, or eliminate manifestations of treatment-induced diseases among rectal cancer survivors.

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