Bowel Function

Damage to the rectum during prostate cancer treatment can result in bowel problems, including rectal bleeding, diarrhoea, or urgency. With a radical prostatectomy it is very rare (less than 1%) for men to have altered bowel function after this surgery. However, with radiation therapy, damage to the rectum is more likely to occur. The older forms of radiation therapy (called 3D conformal) can increase rectal side effects significantly. Using more modern radiation therapy (IMRT or IGRT), it is now very rare to have moderate or severe bowel problems, but the possibility still exists.

During radiation therapy you may experience softer stools and diarrhoea (less than 10%). A new NICE approved technique called SpaceOAR Hydrogel© uses a gel that is injected between the prostate and the rectum to increase the distance between them, It has been shown to reduce the possibility of rectal damage from radiation in men where increased risks of rectal damage has been identified (see SpaceOAR Hydrogel© in the External Beam Radiation Therapy section).