Fecal Incontinence & Adhesions


Fecal incontinence and adhesions impact many who receive treatment for rectal cancer. Unfortunately, even though radiation treatments are carefully planned to target the tumor and surrounding rectum, it is almost impossible to avoid damaging healthy tissue.

  • Fecal incontinence – the inability to control your bowel movements
  • Adhesions (scar tissue) - in the colon, can cause partial or complete blockage of the colon resulting in abdominal pain and swelling, nausea, and vomiting

If you experience redness and skin irritation, ask your radiation oncologist for creams to soothe burns. If you have more serious irritation of rectal tissues that causes diarrhea, rectal bleeding, painful bowel movements, incontinence contact your doctor. Additionally, bladder irritation may cause frequent urination, blood in the urine, or burning during urination.

Be sure to consult your doctor for relief. There are medical and lifestyle options that can minimize the impact of fecal incontinence and adhesions. Talking with your treatment team is vitally important.

Content medically-reviewed by members of the Fight Colorectal Cancer Medical Advisory Board, February 2014

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