Radiation proctopathy is a common unfortunate complication following radiation therapy of pelvic malignancies. Symptoms of chronic radiation procto- pathy include haematochezia, urgency, constipation, tenesmus, diarrhoea and rectal pain.

Currently, a wide variety of pharmacological options, endoscopic cautery techniques and surgical procedures have been proposed for the treatment of chronic radiation proctopathy. Although these have been proposed primarily as treatment for rectal bleeding, the control of other symptoms has been noted with some of these agents. Pharmacological options include 5-aminosalicylic acid preparations, coticosteroid enemas, sucralfate (oral, enemas), formalin, short chain fatty acid enemas, oestrogen/progesterone, hyperbaric oxygen, antioxidants, sodium pentosan polysulphate and miso-prostol rectal suppositories. Of these, sucralfate and formalin therapy appear to be effective for bleeding control. Misoprostol rectal suppositories and oral sucralfate may be useful in the prevention of acute and chronic symptoms of radiation proctopathy.

Endoscopic cautery techniques have included the use of Nd:YAG laser and argon laser for coagulation of bleeding neovascular telangiectasias. Argon plasma coagulation offers a safe non-contact method of delivering haemostasis which has proven to be particularly useful in targeting difficult to reach lesions tangentially.

Surgery is generally reserved for severe refractory cases involving ongoing haemorrhage, obstruction, stricture formation, fistulas and perforation.

Given that formal randomized placebo-controlled studies are lacking for most treatments, the management of these patients is often challenging and unclear. Hence, there is a need for more research and education on radiation proctopathy.