Colitis is an inflammation of the colon caused by radiation that occurs as a side effect of radiation therapy (radiotherapy) to kill cancer cells in the abdomen or pelvis. The condition can be triggered as a result of treatment with external radiation beam emitted by a special device that releases high frequency X-ray or as a result of internal radiation therapy that is delivered through small implants placed directly into or near the cancer tumor.
The colitis caused by radiation occurs when a growing number of cells in the rectum are damaged as a result of radiation therapy. Colitis caused by radiation can occur suddenly, can be acute or chronic, can develop gradually and can be persistent. Symptoms usually begin after 8 weeks of treatment. Chronic form of the disease occurs even after months or years after the end of radiotherapy.
The symptoms of colitis caused by radiation may include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, frequent urge to defecate, rectal bleeding, weight loss and fatty stools.
Complications may include:
- Intestinal blockage;
- Infection / abscess;
- Nutritional deficiency;
- Quantitatively significant rectal bleeding;
- Rupture of the intestines;
3. Treatment options
Treatment plan of colitis caused by radiation depends on the severity of specific symptoms and the severity of the condition. These treatment methods may be the most appropriate:
- Changes in lifestyle – although food is not a direct cause of colitis induced by radiation, people with this condition may reduce symptoms if they follow a low-fat and low fiber diet, drink plenty of fluids and avoid certain foods, but also avoid coffee and dairy products. It may be necessary to take iron or other dietary supplements. Also, patients are encouraged to rest.
- Medication – quite a few drugs can be used to treat this disease.
- Surgery – in rare cases, the patient may need bypass surgery of the intestine or its entirely removal.
4. What to do
To improve the quality of his life, the patient should follow a low fiber and fat diet from the first day of radiation therapy that will continue for 2-3 weeks after cessation of radiation therapy when symptoms disappear, along with the condition that start them.
Other measures that can be taken to maximize health and minimize symptoms are:
- Frequent consumption of small meals, which will include food at room temperature;
- Consumption of three liters of fluid a day to prevent dehydration (can be apple juice and grapes, water, soft drinks without caffeine);
- Limit your intake of dairy products (except low fat yogurt);
- Exclusion from the menu of whole meal bread, raw vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, seeds, nuts and coconut;
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, chocolate, fatty foods, fried foods, refined and very spicy foods;
- Consumption of broiled or baked fish, chicken or turkey meat, eggs, macaroni, noodles, toast, peanut butter, bananas, apples, baked or mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables (asparagus, green beans, carrots, spinach) and juice fruit.