Systematic review for non-surgical interventions for the management of late radiation proctitis

Br J Cancer. 2002 Jul 15;87(2):134-43. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6600360.


Chronic radiation proctitis produces a range of clinical symptoms for which there is currently no recommended standard management. The aim of this review was to identify the various non-surgical treatment options for the management of late chronic radiation proctitis and evaluate the evidence for their efficacy. Synonyms for radiation therapy and for the spectrum of lower gastrointestinal radiation toxicity were combined in an extensive search strategy and applied to a range of databases. The included studies were those that involved interventions for the non-surgical management of late radiation proctitis. Sixty-three studies were identified that met the inclusion criteria, including six randomised controlled trials that described the effects of anti-inflammatory agents in combination, rectal steroids alone, rectal sucralfate, short chain fatty acid enemas and different types of thermal therapy. However, these studies could not be compared. If the management of late radiation proctitis is to become evidence based, then, in view of its episodic and variable nature, placebo controlled studies need to be conducted to clarify which therapeutic options should be recommended. From the current data, although certain interventions look promising and may be effective, one small or modest sized study, even if well-conducted, is insufficient to implement changes in practice. In order to increase recruitment to trials, a national register of cases with established late radiation toxicity would facilitate multi-centre trials with specific entry criteria, formal baseline and therapeutic assessments providing standardised outcome data.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Rectal
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Disease
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electrocoagulation
  • Enema
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Formaldehyde / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation
  • Male
  • Metronidazole / therapeutic use
  • Pelvic Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Pentosan Sulfuric Polyester / therapeutic use
  • Proctitis / drug therapy
  • Proctitis / etiology
  • Proctitis / therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiation Injuries / drug therapy
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology
  • Radiation Injuries / therapy*
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Metronidazole
  • Formaldehyde
  • Pentosan Sulfuric Polyester