Radiation Therapy for Colorectal Cancer

Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. External beam radiation (i.e., radiation from a machine outside the body) may be used in addition to surgery to treat colorectal cancer (called adjuvant therapy). It also may be used to relieve symptoms (called palliative treatment) in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

Side effects of radiation include fatigue, hair loss, reddened skin, and swelling (edema). Medicines and other treatments can reduce the intensity of the side effects. As with other cancer treatments, the incidence of side effects varies with patient health and the exact nature of the treatment.

Publication Review By: Toomas Sorra, M.D., F.A.C.G.

Published: 14 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 22 Jul 2015