Table 2

Rate and nature of chronic gastrointestinal problems after cancer treatment in patients at different tumour sites

Cancer siteNumbers of diagnoses annually in UKNumbers undergoing treatment with curative intentTreatment modalitiesSurvival at 5 years after radical treatmentPercentage affected by chronic symptoms affecting quality of lifeTypes of chronic GI symptoms
Oesophago-gastric13 00020%
  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiotherapy

Surgery
25–30%50% (?)
  • Anorexia

  • Diarrhoea

  • Nausea

  • Reflux

Weight loss
Pancreas650010–15%
  • Chemotherapy

Radiotherapy Surgery
14%–25%N/A
  • Malabsorption

  • Weight loss

Wind
Colorectal38 60090%
  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiotherapy

Surgery
50%
  • Colonic surgery: 15%

  • Rectal surgery: 33%

  • Short-course radiotherapy: 66%

Chemoradiation + surgery: 50%
  • Bleeding

  • Diarrhoea

  • Frequency

  • Incontinence

  • Tenesmus

Urgency
Anal100080%
  • Chemoradiation

(Surgery)
40%–70%N/A
  • Bleeding

  • Frequency

  • Incontinence

Urgency
Gynaecological18 00090%
  • Surgery

Radiotherapy ± Chemotherapy
  • Variable

Depending on tumour type
40% after treatment which includes radiotherapy
  • Bleeding

  • Diarrhoea

  • Flatulence

  • Frequency

  • Incontinence

  • Malabsorption

  • Pain

Urgency
Head and neck900090%
  • Chemoradiation 20–25%

Surgery
>50%Up to 50%
  • Dysgeusia

  • Dysphagia

  • Dependency on tube feeding

  • Pain

  • Trismus

  • Weight loss

Xerostomia
Urological50 00080%
  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiotherapy

Surgery
75%30% after radiotherapy
  • Bleeding

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhoea

  • Flatulence

  • Frequency

  • Incontinence

  • Malabsorption

  • Pain

Urgency