This procedure can only be done as part of a research study. This is because there is not enough evidence to be sure how well it works or how safe it is.

Locally advanced rectal cancer affects the end part of the bowel (rectum) and nearby tissues. Completely removing it using surgery can be difficult or impossible. Some people cannot have surgery or choose not to have it.

In this procedure, an X-ray tube is inserted through the anus and placed in close contact with the cancer. It releases low-energy radiation into the cancer cells (brachytherapy). It may be done by itself or with other types of radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The aim is to kill the cancer cells while causing as little damage to surrounding healthy tissue as possible.

The NHS website may be a good place to find out more. NICE’s information on interventional procedures guidance has more about what a procedure is and how we assess them.

Is this procedure right for me?

If you’ve been offered this procedure, your healthcare professionals should discuss with you what is involved, and explain the research study, and tell you about the risks and benefits. They should talk with you about your options, and listen carefully to your views and concerns. Your family can be involved too, if you wish. All of this should happen before you agree (consent) to have the procedure and to be in the study. You should also be told how to find more information about the procedure. Read more about making decisions about your care.

Some questions to think about

  • What does the procedure involve?
  • What are the possible benefits? How likely am I to get them?
  • What are the risks or side effects? How likely are they?
  • What happens if the procedure doesn’t work or something goes wrong?
  • What happens if I don’t want the procedure? Are there other treatments available?

ISBN: 978-1-4731-3496-6

This page was last updated: 14 August 2019