6 side effects of radiation therapy to the pelvis in women

Radiation therapy to the pelvis is commonly used to treat women with lower gastrointestinal tract cancers, as well as gynecologic cancers, such as cervical cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. Because the radiation therapy is administered to the pelvis, though, there are certain side effects that are common among these patients. Here are six effects to watch for if you’re receiving radiation to the pelvis. Keep in mind that the specific side effects that you experience will depend on whether you receive chemotherapy, the location and dosage of the radiation, and the number of treatments. 1. Diarrhea Many patients develop diarrhea during radiation therapy. To manage diarrhea, we recommend a low-fiber diet. If you’re an MD Anderson patient, ask your care team for a referral to one of our dietitians. He or she will give you specific guidelines to follow during treatment. We may also recommend medications such as Imodium and or Lomotil, but always check with your doctor before taking any medications. If you develop pain in the anal region, we recommend sitz baths. You can also try using very gentle baby wipes rather than toilet paper after a bowel movement. 2. Bladder and vaginal irritation The inside lining of the bladder sometimes becomes irritated during radiation. Let your doctor know if you develop bladder symptoms. That way, he or she can prescribe additional tests and/or medication as needed. Your vagina and/or external genital area may become irritated during treatment. Sitz baths can provide relief. Your doctor can also prescribe certain moisturizers, ointments and lotions that you can apply to your skin after treatment and before you go to bed. Just...