Why choose Mayo Clinic

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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  • Experience. Each year, Mayo Clinic doctors diagnose and treat hundreds of people with radiation enteritis.
  • Expertise. People with radiation enteritis sometimes need nutritional support (tube feeding) at home. Mayo has comprehensive home nutritional support programs. Mayo doctors also have experience weaning some people off liquid nutrition.

About

Radiation enteritis is experienced by most people who have radiation therapy for cancer in the abdomen, rectum or pelvis. For most people the inflammation eases within three weeks of completing radiation treatment (acute radiation enteritis). But 5 to 15 percent of people develop ongoing problems (chronic radiation enteritis).

Chronic radiation enteritis can develop in people who had no symptoms or only mild symptoms during radiation treatment. The factors that may affect long-term radiation injury include the radiation dosage and whether you previously had abdominal surgery, vascular disease or chemotherapy. Chronic radiation enteritis is also more common in women and in older and thinner people.

Radiation enteritis can reduce the small intestine's ability to absorb nutrients, resulting in diarrhea and malnourishment. For some people the movement of food through the digestive system may be slowed, resulting in nausea, vomiting and weight loss.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of radiation enteritis include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Straining to have a bowel movement
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Exhaustion

Resources

Below are some helpful Internet resources on this topic. Mayo Clinic does not own or control any of these sites and is not responsible for their content. Inclusion of these sites does not imply endorsement by Mayo Clinic.

Oley Foundation, Inc.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks No. 1 for digestive disorders in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., are ranked high performing for digestive disorders by U.S. News & World Report.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., are ranked high performing for cancer by U.S. News & World Report.

Nov. 20, 2012