• Radiation Therapy and Radiation Therapy Innovations in Colorectal Cancer (P Lee and A Raldow, Section Editors)
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Quality of Life After Radiotherapy for Rectal and Anal Cancer

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Purpose of Review

With advances in radiation therapy (RT) techniques for rectal and anal cancers allowing for the modulation of critical normal tissues, there has been an increased emphasis on improving the quality of life (QOL) for cancer survivors. Herein, we review the literature to examine the impact of RT on QOL and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) to better inform providers about the challenges of survivorship.

Recent Findings

Large systematic reviews, recent studies, and long-term follow-up of pivotal clinical trials have shown that RT impacts QOL, particularly fecal continence and sexual function. Modern preoperative RT techniques, which allow for decreased dose to organs-at-risk, will likely improve QOL.


RT, although critical in the treatment of rectal and anal cancer, can have a profound impact on QOL for some patients. Recent studies have included PROs and validated QOL metrics to better inform providers and patients.

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Correspondence to Salma K. Jabbour.

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Shane S. Neibart, Sharon L. Manne, and Salma K. Jabbour each declare no potential conflicts of interest.

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Neibart, S.S., Manne, S.L. & Jabbour, S.K. Quality of Life After Radiotherapy for Rectal and Anal Cancer. Curr Colorectal Cancer Rep (2020).

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  • Quality of life
  • Patient-reported outcome measures
  • Radiation therapy
  • Rectal neoplasms
  • Anus neoplasms
  • Cancer survivors