Gastrointestinal complications of oncologic therapy

Nat Clin Pract Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Dec;5(12):682-96. doi: 10.1038/ncpgasthep1277. Epub 2008 Oct 21.


Gastrointestinal complications are common in patients undergoing various forms of cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and molecular-targeted therapies. Many of these complications are life-threatening and require prompt diagnosis and treatment. Complications of oncologic therapy can occur in the esophagus (esophagitis, strictures, bacterial, viral and fungal infections), upper gastrointestinal tract (mucositis, bleeding, nausea and vomiting), colon (diarrhea, graft-versus-host disease, colitis and constipation), liver (drug hepatotoxicity and graft-versus-host disease), and pancreas (pancreatitis). Treatment of the different gastrointestinal complications should be tailored to the individual patient and based on the underlying pathophysiology of the complication.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Constipation / chemically induced*
  • Diarrhea / chemically induced*
  • Enterocolitis, Neutropenic / chemically induced*
  • Esophagitis / etiology*
  • Graft vs Host Disease
  • Humans
  • Proctitis / etiology
  • Radiation Injuries


  • Antineoplastic Agents