Approximately 5% to 10% of patients receiving abdominopelvic radiation therapy will develop a colon or rectal injury. Thorough evaluation of the patient to determine the extent of the injury and the presence of concomitant lesions and to rule out recurrent malignancy is urged. Many radiation complications can be managed with medical regimens. Although colostomy remains a valuable and frequently utilized mode of treatment, it is by no means the sole alternative when surgical intervention is required. Rectal resection with colorectal or coloanal anastomosis can be performed safely for some injuries involving the distal rectum. Surgery for irradiated bowel should be focused on minimizing dissection to minimize injuries and on providing healthy non-irradiated tissues to provide adequate blood supply to promote healing. Patients who have received abdominopelvic radiation are at greater risk of developing colorectal cancer, and cancer surveillance should be commenced 5 years after completion of therapy.
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