Radiation Enteritis is an inflammatory bowel condition resulting from radiation damage to the abdominal and pelvic areas. Acute Radiation Enteritis occurs during or immediately after a radiation treatment course while the chronic disease represents an inadequate healing process in the intestines after radiation damage.
Radiation enteritis occurs to some degree in almost all patients treated with radiation directed at the abdomen or pelvic area. This includes most patients with cancer of the bladder, uterus, cervix, rectum, prostate, and vagina. The bowel is very sensitive to radiation damage.
Acute radiation enteritis generally occurs around the second week of radiation treatment and includes symptoms of diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fecal urgency and loss of appetite.
Chronic radiation enteritis occurs after radiation is complete. Symptoms vary and may include pain after eating, acute or intermittent small bowel obstruction, nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss, bloating, diarrhea, inability to extract nutrients from food eaten and the excretion of fat in feces. Chronic radiation enteritis is often associated with a thickening or scarring of the intestinal lining (called fibrosis) which is believed to have been caused by the initial radiation damage and subsequent inflammatory response.