Log in or Register to participate in these discussions

rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by stefanie on Dec 29, 2015 10:51 am

Hi My name is Stefanie I am 53 years old and Feb 17 2015 I was diagnosed with anal rectal cancer ( stage 2 /squamous cell carcinoma). I had chemo/ radiation done and it ended in April 2015 ( 6 weelks of radiation/ 2 weeks of chemo). I started to have right side pain and muscle spasms down my right leg after my radiation had ended. I became incontient of urine and bowel. I started to have severe muscle cramps at night which would wake me up throughout the night. Presently ( Dec 2015) I have regained my bladder control but I still do not have bowel control. I still have leg pain on my right side with some muscle spasms which keep me up at night. the bottom of my feet are sore, both of my legs are swollen, and I started to have right shoulder pain which radiates to my right elbow. This ache and pain in my right shoulder is new and it too disturbs me at night plus reduces my ablility to complete tasks in the day time. I have tingling sensation, some numbness in my lower right leg as well which comes and goes throughout the day time ( depends how long i sit for in one spot). My concentration has started to improve but I can still be distracted easily. I am looking forward to be fully recovered from any pain and to return to work, however , I am not sure how long this will take. I am going to start physio therapy and I will be seeing a neurologist next month. I do not want to start taking medication that will cause me to be addictive to so I remain on tylenol extra strength. Has anyone else has similar symptoms such as mine after completing their chemo/radiation treatments? If so what was helpful for you? How long did it take to recover and is the pain gone or reduced?  If anyone has any other information to share it would be greatly appreciated.    Thank you and have a Healthy, Happy New Year    Stefanie

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by Debra on Dec 30, 2015 8:19 am

Hi Stefanie. I am also part of the anal cancer group. I'm 62 female, treated at juranvinski cancer clinic in Hamilton. Bowel control was sporadic for the year after treatment, but gets better. I never had bladder issues. Some soreness on the right side for me but they hit that side with radiation, since they thought some lymph nodes were involved.. I don't know where you are located but I have free long distance of you want to chat. Someone helped me like that when I was going through treatment and it helps. If you have concerns about these issues, please be sure your care team knows! I'm also part of a anal chat group with members from all over the world. It's comforting to hear others having the same issues and they provide valuable information and support. Take care. Hope to hear back from you. You are not alone with this.

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by stefanie on Dec 30, 2015 9:33 am

Hi Debra  Thank you for responding, I would be very interested in chatting with you and having some contact with a anal cancer group. It would be benificial to me. Thanks again Stefanie 

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by Pokie on Dec 30, 2015 10:54 am

HI Stefanie

I too was diagnosed with anal/rectal cancer stage 3 with lymph node involvement in Sept 2015.  I am a 59 year old female, and I have just completed 30 radiation treatments and 8 days of chemo,  So far, the side affects have been managable.  I have some bowel issues,  aching legs stopped at least for now. low energy.  Will be going for a CT scan in a few weeks to see how things are.  Hope you are feeling better, I have been taking tramdol for pain, which is just a step up from Tylenol 3.


Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by stefanie on Dec 30, 2015 5:04 pm

Hi Jean   Thank you for replying it is important for me to know that these symptoms that I am experiencing are familiar to other people who have had cancer treatment. I believe each and everyone of us have a slight differnece but the common concern is the pain afterwards and how it effects us. It seems to take a little longer for some individuals to recover than others but its sounds like overall the pain decreases over time. I just bought some aleve over the counter for pain and it works as an anti inflammatory agent which should relieve some of my symptoms. I will also try some physio which should strenghten some of my muscle mass and hopefully give me more motion range in my right shoulder and right leg. Wish me luck and I will keep everyone updated  with myresults .  Take care   Stefanie

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by stefanie on Dec 30, 2015 5:07 pm

Hi Jean   I also want to wish you the best of luck with your CT scan I will be going for mine next week for the results. I am so glad that our health system has so many different ways to diagnose and help manage our health.   Take care Stefanie

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by Pokie on Jan 2, 2016 10:26 am

Hi Stephanie
Best of luck to you as well. Hope you have good results. We are lucky to have our health care system.  The team at BC Cancer are wonderful and caring people.  All the best Jean

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by LucyM on Feb 5, 2016 11:51 am

Hi.   I just finished 28 days of radiation and also was on chemo pills.  Did anyone have  problems with peeling skin after radiation.  Also I am having bladder issues, the Cancer Care Nurse cannot. tell me too much on how long  the symptoms might last.   I am now waiting for a surgery date to remove tumour which is in the rectal area. 

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by Bill49 on Feb 5, 2016 2:32 pm

Hi, I had my 28 days of radiation and tried to take the chemo pills. I had my surgery last March and I feel so much better. Think positive, keep up your sense of humour and all will be good.

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by Pokie on Feb 5, 2016 4:55 pm

I have anal cancer and the tumour had reached the rectal area. I had radiation for 30days, I did end up with peeling skin from the burn.  The Dr warned me that it would be worse after treatment ended and may continue to get worse for a few weeks after, which it did. Everyone is different, I used the sitz bath constantly and applied Aveeno skin lotion as well. The skin cleared up after a month.   Bladder was an issue as was the bowel, these issues are resolving, my treatment ended in mid december. 
The chemo I received was a personal pump which I wore for 96 hours, two times during radiation as I have ulcerative proctitis and they were concerned I won't absorb the pills.  Results so far from my last CT scan were very positive.

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by KarinLeah on Feb 5, 2016 7:35 pm

I too, have rectal cancer. This is my second tumor. They removed 25 cm of bowel with the initial surgery.
I have just completed 25 treatments of radiation and chemo. I am scheduled for surgery in mid March with a planned temporary colostomy. At least, that is my hope!
I was advised prior to starting my treatment to hydrate very well, moisturize my skin, avoid the sun and have luke warm showers. They also advised as to which soap, lotions,etc. would help to protect the skin.
During my treatment my skin was often a little itchy but no serious side effects.
My bladder was inflamed due to the radiation treatments and I often felt much urgency but it has been 2 weeks since I completed my regimen and the urgency no longer exists.
Perhaps hydration and lotions might be helpful in your situation.
Good luck and take care,


Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by Debra on Feb 13, 2016 1:21 pm

Hi LucyM,
I also had lots of peeling in the groin area after radiation. It's very normal, but hurts. frown 

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by on Jul 15, 2017 10:12 am

After 30 radiation treatments I had a burn the size of a dinner plate radiating from my anus.  Unfortunately urethra is in that area and it became very inflamed and painful (think urinary tract infection).  I would pee in the bath and used baby wipes soaked in saline to help with burn.  1 week after treatment seems to be subsiding.  

Burn was gruesome.  During this time I had lots of Sitz baths.  I went 'commando' as much as possible and purchased men's boxer shorts to avoid rubbing in the groin area.  Once the blisters burst, it is important to keep the skin protected.  I used adaptive skin strips (hospital pharmacy) and lots of padding.  Once the skin peeled my skin was very close to normal (week 6 of radiation).  I did not use any skin creams at all.  

Hope this helps!

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by Pokie on Jul 15, 2017 10:42 am

I was told the bladder symptoms coluld last up to 6 months or so.  My doctor prescriped flamzine ointment for the burns/itch area.  Overall skin resolved in about 6 weeks, used lotions through out the day to help.
commando is the way to go, ask for some of the panties from the clinic nurses. They are a kind of net used for maternity and radiation patients. 

First time rectal treatments??????

Posted by Ottawamarc on Mar 3, 2018 4:45 am

Cant find anywhere????? on this SITE The beginnings of Squamous Cell Treatments. What to expect??? Experiences??? Things to look out for? Tips..Dealing With the new Anal Itch (still suffering with the nasty spasmodic old anal itch now) . Just experimenting with CBD oil. Any help....Anybody....On This Site??? Help PleSe

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by Elsie13 on Mar 4, 2018 3:41 pm

Ottawamarc‍ , well for the itching, I might be repeating what others have suggested - what about plain old Vaseline?  What about diaper rash products like Penaten Daily Clear, which I think is vaseline with added ingredients?   The regular Penaten cream in the flat blue tin?  Zincofax? 
      I don't have any medical training.  These products could cause side effects, I imagine. 

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by sallygirl63 on Apr 8, 2018 7:08 pm


My name is Sally and I was diagnosed with rectal cancer 3-rd stage, June 2016. I had undergone 28 sessions of radiation and had to take chemotherapy pills during the course of radiation. My surgery was November 2016 and the results of the pathology were negative for cancer cells in the lymph nodes (18 lymph nodes).
Since then, I have been to 2 follow-ups, CT scans, and the results are normal. What makes me anxious is that I still cannot sit without feeling pain. I told the surgeon who performed the surgery but he said that he doesn't know why I have this pain. There is always a swelling around the anal region.
does anyone have a similar experience?

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by Elsie13 on Apr 9, 2018 4:28 pm

Hello Sallygirl63‍ .  I'm not sure if anyone has had this same problem, but perhaps MyDoxies‍ and Alicat‍ will share their stories and updates with you. I was thinking though, perhaps you should see a different doctor for a second opinion?

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by Slmcrandle on Jun 21, 2018 12:07 pm

Hi!  I was dx w squamous cell carcinoma of the anus, anal cancer, in April 2013.  I had been exhausted, losing weight, severe stomach pain, bad stools, blood in stools,etc, for over two years. I saw over 70 different doctors including five GI doctors, had two colonoscopies and one flexible sigmoidoscopy.  No one saw the cancer and my blood work was normal except for some signs of autoimmune disease and a low wbc. It took two months to do all necessary testing including ct, scrape biopsy, deep needle biopsy, anal ultrasound, several digital exams with different drs, and finally a pet scan. The first measurement of the tumor put it at about 2” diameter. The last ct showed it being 4” diameter and spreading to lymph nodes on same side. I did 6 weeks of radiation and 2 weeks( 14 days) of chemo. I had to stop both several times bc I became so ill. I am 5’8” and wasted to 104 pounds. The pain was horrifying and I was put in to see an end of life pain management dr. I ended up being on 800 subsys fentenyl every two hours for about four months. The burns were so bad that even passing urin would make me pass out from the pain. Passing stool would cause tearing and ripping throughout my vaginal and anal/ rectal areas. I had a blood transfusion after treatment ended and was on medication to boost my wbc production through the end of treatment. I even went in on weekends for treatment. I have radiation burn scars that look like I am wearing boxers. The end result is the tumor is gone and I have no evidence of disease. Unfortunately, even five years later, I suffer horribly. My bladder and bowels are not controllable even after months of exercise. I often have accidents in my car or in public. Diapers don’t work bc my entire intestines will just decide to empty with no warning. It took four years to grow half my head of hair back and my skin in the radiation areas has stopped healing and is now degrading. I cannot have a colostomy bc I am prone to infection and allergic to latex, rubber, etc. I have vaginal stenosis, osteoporosis, menopause and lowered lung capacity due to treatment. I also may have a heart issue. We are still trying to dx that. I knew three other people who had this roughly around the same time. Three of us had the scc and one was anal cancer due to HIV. I’m the only one alive. And I’m barely alive. I cannot function on a daily basis. I take 5-8 colace a day to loosen my stool so it does not tear me coming out. I’m now allergic to dairy so I am a vegan. I have ptsd and stay in my room unless I have a dr appt. I can no longer have a sexual relationship with my husband of almost 16 years because my vaginal, anal and perineum tissues tear. I tried estrogen but it gave me blood clots. I had 27 different prescriptions for my butt at one time. Some got rubbed on and others got squirted in. Nothing helps. I’ve tried acupuncture, homeopathic remedies and even laser treatment for the proctitis. Everything either fails or makes it worse. I I get a flex sig every six months to check for recurrence. A ct of my abdomen shows that every organ in me has adhesions to every other organ. You can’t really differentiate between organs anymore. A few months after treatment ended, my appendix burst. My cell counts were so bad I suffered through a bone marrow biopsy which showed I don’t have blood cancer of any type but my wbc production is altered for life. I don’t have enough well developed wbcs to be healthy but they are being produced. I used to be a fitness model, spokesmodel and make up artist. I used to travel constantly for work. Now I just try not to collapse on the way to dr appts.  Going to a gym, getting dressed and being on my feet for a long day in front of or behind a camera will never happen again. I have to be within a few feet of a bathroom at all times. Sometimes, while I’m asleep, my bowels just empty. Even with the colace, my stool can tear my anus, rectum and vagina. Just wiping with the wrong toilet paper does as well. Not one dr can offer help. I have been through six oncologists at this point. I do not understand how or why I am still alive. Living is awful. I do not feel like a survivor or like I have beaten anything. I even had to stop therapy for the ptsd bc I couldn’t travel to and from and sit in the office w my therapist. The bathroom is too far. I’m scared every day of what is going to happen next. The treatment affected my brain as well. Everything is hazey, like constant brain fog. I have three children and a husband in the military that travels to train and deploy. No relatives. This entire thing has been madness. Without my income, we are one check away from losing our home. Twice, I’ve had to ask for help on gofundme just to pay medical and homeopathic bills.  Thank God for that help. Currently I have no oncologist bc they are all inept. My insurance won’t cover any drs out of town. My GI is the only constant to check for recurrence, but last winter I got soooooo scared of the pain involved and the lack of empathy towards me and treatment of my body, I cancelled and haven’t had a flexsig in almost a year. If you can think of something to help, I have tried it. The colorectal surgeon that dx’d me said many people plateau in healing then spiral downward into late onset side effects. I did not have surgery bc of the size and placement of my tumor, just chemo and radiation. My life ended the day I was diagnosed. I cannot even get a dr to start disability paperwork.  They think bc I can get dressed and get to a dr appt, I can work somewhere. I cannot. I actually pray I get a second cancer bc I would deny treatment and let myself go as I should have the first time. This is an ongoing nightmare of epic proportions.  No person should suffer like this for any reason, ever. Every single day, I wake up to an 8 on a pain scale of 1-10. And the signs of autoimmune, well, that turned out to be ankylosing spondylitis. Yey me. Treatment doesn’t work bc Im so far progressed in the disease. My two boys have been dx’d with AS as well although one is not responding to treatment and is now having problems with his lymph nodes. Praying that is not cancer. It’s all just too much for one human being to carry. And if I hear one more time how lucky I am to have the tumor gone, I might punch someone. This is not luck. It is an abomination.  God bless. 

Re: rectal cancer /side effects after treatment

Posted by Elsie13 on Jun 23, 2018 8:38 pm

 Slmcrandle‍  I am so sorry that you are going through all this.  It's really hard to understand that there's no doctor that can help you. And it seems so ridiculous that people think you could just go and get a job! I belong to a couple of critical thinking organizations that sometimes look at medical quackery, shall we say. You mention financial problems, so I suggest you stop paying for homeopathy and acupuncture. 
You've tried everything I guess, but just to make sure,  you have the Canadian Cancer Society  help number?  Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333
Any ideas, Lacey_adminCCS‍ , Lianne_adminCCS‍  ?