A new treatment called GutLife Cream is now available to help minimise the risk of severe skin reactions which is one of the most common side effects of radiotherapy for patients with bowel cancer.
In a recent case study from The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, the UK’s 2nd largest cancer hospital, GutLife Cream has been used in patients with rectal and anal cancer. The results have proved very promising and could make the journey through treatment much more comfortable for patients.
You can read more about the case study here
What is bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer, also known as colon cancer or colorectal cancer, is any cancer that affects the colon (large bowel), rectum (back passage) and anus. Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer worldwide and the third most common cancer in the United Kingdom (UK) after lung and breast cancer.
Radiotherapy or chemo-radiotherapy treatment
If you have been diagnosed with cancer in your rectum or anus, radiotherapy may be offered to you as a treatment option. It is usually given at the same time as chemotherapy, as this makes the cancer cells more sensitive to the radiation.
What is radiotherapy?
Radiotherapy is the use of controlled, high-energy radiation, usually X-rays, to destroy cancerous tumours. The treatment doesn’t make you radioactive and it’s perfectly safe to be with others during the course of your treatment.
Side effects of radiotherapy
The side effects of radiotherapy will vary depending on length and intensity of treatment you have. It will affect the bowel and other local tissue, including your skin and other tissue close to the tumour.
All patients receiving external beam radiotherapy are at risk of skin damage. More than 85% of patients treated with radiotherapy will experience a skin reaction ranging from mild to severe.
Although patients with anal and rectal cancer receiving concurrent chemo-radiotherapy will experience a skin reaction, patients with anal cancer tend to have a more severe reaction due to a greater radiation dose to the skin.
Skin reactions can become very severe and painful requiring active wound management and strong pain relief. Skin care management is essential to minimise the risk of secondary complications which may affect a patients’ ability to cope with treatment.
How GutLife Cream works
GutLife Cream is part of a specialist range of skin care products for radiotherapy patients. It contains a groups of essential fatty acids which reduce swelling, pain, redness and itch as a result of treatment.
The importance of fatty acids in maintaining the integrity of the skin barrier (epidermis) is widely known. However, latest research into the biology of the skin shows how these fatty acids (also called bioactive lipids) are intimately involved in skin health through their considerable influence over skin inflammation the co-ordination of the skin’s protective immune system.
For more information about Bowel Cancer – visit the Beating Bowel Cancer website where you can also download helpful advice leaflets.