Sometimes pelvic radiotherapy can cause long-term changes to the way the bowel works. Tenesmus is the feeling that you need to go to the toilet but your bowel is empty.

About tenesmus

Sometimes pelvic radiotherapy can cause long-term changes to the way the bowel works. Tenesmus is the feeling that you need to go to the toilet but your bowel is empty. It can involve straining, pain and cramping. It can be caused by cramp (spasms) in the muscles that stimulate the bowel.

Treating tenesmus after pelvic radiotherapy

The spasms may be helped with:

Sometimes constipation or infection can cause tenesmus. It is also sometimes caused by a non-cancerous growth (a polyp) in the bowel, or by a cancer in the bowel.

If you have tenesmus, your doctor will examine your back passage and may arrange for you to have a test called a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy to look at the bowel.