Chemoradiotherapy for rectal cancer
Chemoradiotherapy is a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and is sometimes known as chemoradiation.
It may be given before surgery to help shrink the cancer, or after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
The chemotherapy drugs can make the cancer cells more sensitive to radiotherapy.
A combination of treatments may be more effective than having either chemotherapy or radiotherapy alone.
The chemotherapy drug most commonly used is fluorouracil (5FU), which may be
given as a series of injections before the radiotherapy, or as a drip (infusion). The chemotherapy can also be given as tablets called capecitabine.
Giving chemotherapy and radiotherapy together can make the side effects of the treatment worse. Your doctor or specialist nurse can give you more information about chemoradiotherapy and the possible side effects of this treatment.