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Radiation Proctitis

It is important to examine the inside of the rectum and colon in any individual with rectal bleeding to be sure of the cause. Radiation proctitis is one possible cause. Radiation proctitis is a common side effect of radiation treatments for cancer of the prostate in men. During radiation treatment most men undergo about 35 sessions of radiation delivered inside the lower rectum over a period of 5 weeks. Radiation helps kill the prostate cancer cells, but unavoidably also causes some damage to the delicate rectal lining. Sometimes that damage persists in the form of proctitis. In this short video, you can see inside the last 2 inches of the rectum. The red areas are small surface blood vessels that have formed in response to the radiation injury. These vessels are often permanent and are fragile which may cause small amounts of red rectal bleeding with a bowel movement. Most cases are minor and just an annoyance. In rare cases, the bleeding can be excessive and even lead to anemia. This may require special treatments.

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Radiation Proctitis

Text & Images Courtesy of Three Rivers Endoscopy Center
© Dr. Robert Fusco, Three Rivers Endoscopy Center, All Rights Reserved

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