Clinical and Translational Oncology

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 576–583 | Cite as

Assessment of acute bowel function after radiotherapy for prostate cancer: Is it accurate enough?

  • M. Bonet
  • L. Cayetano
  • M. Núñez
  • E. Jovell-Fernández
  • A. Aguilar
  • Y. Ribas
Research Article


Background and purpose

Pelvic radiotherapy for prostate cancer can be associated with bowel toxicity, which may have a significant impact on quality of life. Our aim was to assess the adequacy of the tools currently used to assess bowel symptoms after radiotherapy, including physician and patient reported outcomes. This sub-study on acute toxicity was part of a prospective trial assessing long-term bowel dysfunction.

Materials and methods

Between February 2013 and July 2015, 75 patients with prostate cancer who received radiotherapy completed the LENT/SOMA and the EPIC questionnaires baseline and 2 weeks after the treatment. The Bristol stool scale and two additional questions on faecal urgency were added. Physicians assessed toxicity using Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events v.4.0. Agreement between patients and clinicians was assessed using the Cohen’s κ coefficient.


Acute toxicity during radiotherapy was very low. The pattern of overall bowel bother was similar before and after treatment. Faecal urgency significantly increased after radiotherapy compared to baseline but was only detected by the additional questions and not by the physicians or the patient-reported outcomes (PRO) questionnaires. Correlation between physician and PRO was poor for most symptoms.


Bowel symptoms such as urgency may remain undetected by usual tools to assess toxicity after radiotherapy. Assessment of bowel toxicity should be reappraised in order to identify those patients who may have symptoms with an impact on their quality of life.


Radiotherapy Prostate cancer Bowel dysfunction Faecal urgency Quality of life 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Federación de Sociedades Españolas de Oncología (FESEO) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Radiation OncologyConsorci Sanitari de TerrassaTerrassaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Radiation OncologyHospital Universitari Sant Joan de ReusReusSpain
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryConsorci Sanitari de TerrassaTerrassaSpain
  4. 4.Department of EpidemiologyConsorci Sanitari de TerrassaTerrassaSpain
  5. 5.Department of UrologyConsorci Sanitari de TerrassaTerrassaSpain

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