The prevalence of chronic radiation enteritis following radiotherapy for cervical or endometrial cancer and its impact on quality of life

J Abayomi, J Kirwan, A Hackett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Studies suggest that 50% of people may suffer from chronic radiation enteritis (CRE) (Andreyev, J., 2005. Gastrointestinal complications of pelvic radiotherapy: are they of any importance? Gut 54, 1051-1054). Gami et al. (Gami, B., Harrington, K., Blake, P., Dearnaley, D., Andreyev, H.J.N., 2003. How patients manage gastrointestinal symptoms after pelvic radiotherapy. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics 18, 987-994) argue that this is unimportant if quality of life is unaffected. The aim of this study was to identify how many women experience CRE following radiotherapy and to investigate whether women who have higher doses of radiotherapy or more advanced stage of cancer are more at risk.

METHODS: Women (=117) who had completed radiotherapy for cervical or endometrial cancer were asked to complete a validated questionnaire exploring bowel problems and quality of life. Responses were scored and compared to scores for women with known faecal incontinence (Bugg, G.J., Kiff, E.S., Hosker, G., 2001. A new condition-specific health-related quality of life questionnaire for the assessment of women with anal incontinence. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 108 (10), 1057-1067).

RESULTS: Using a score of '0' to indicate no symptoms, 47% of women gained scores indicative of CRE (>0), range 20-85 (mean 34, SD 14.4). Younger women (p<0.001) and women with cervical cancer (p<0.05) were more likely to score for CRE. No significant relationship was observed between score and either radiotherapy dose or stage of cancer.

CONCLUSIONS: Scoring suggests that about half of woman treated with radiotherapy develop CRE. Quality of life is affected, particularly regarding tiredness and coping behaviours due to lack of warning signs for CRE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-7
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cost of Illness
  • Endometrial Neoplasms/radiotherapy
  • England/epidemiology
  • Enteritis/epidemiology
  • Fecal Incontinence/epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life/psychology
  • Radiation Injuries/epidemiology
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/radiotherapy


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