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Colorectal Diseases

Fecal incontinence after radiation therapy

07/08/2008

Question:

I underwent radiation and brachy therapy for stage 2 cervial cancer. Since then at least once a day I get no warning at all and barely make it to the bathroom. It comes on with a buldging feeling in my anus and when I stand up to run to the bathroom I must contract my muscles to get there or have an accident. My doctor said this will decrease with time, or I will need a complete radical evacuation surgery and an external bag. Are there other options?

Answer:

If your radiation was only recently completed, you may still have some swelling and inflammation in the pelvis that is causing your problems. This will likely improve somewhat over time.

If your radiation was given a long time ago (over 8-12 months), your chance of regaining continence is much lower, and a stoma may be able to provide you much better control over your life.

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Response by:

Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD
Professor of Surgery
Chief of Colorectal Surgery Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati