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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Interventions to reduce acute and late adverse gastrointestinal effects of pelvic radiotherapy for primary pelvic cancers

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, January 2018
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Interventions to reduce acute and late adverse gastrointestinal effects of pelvic radiotherapy for primary pelvic cancers
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, January 2018
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd012529.pub2
Pubmed ID

Theresa A Lawrie, John T Green, Mark Beresford, Linda Wedlake, Sorrel Burden, Susan E Davidson, Simon Lal, Caroline C Henson, H. Jervoise N Andreyev


An increasing number of people survive cancer but a significant proportion have gastrointestinal side effects as a result of radiotherapy (RT), which impairs their quality of life (QoL). To determine which prophylactic interventions reduce the incidence, severity or both of adverse gastrointestinal effects among adults receiving radiotherapy to treat primary pelvic cancers. We conducted searches of CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and Embase in September 2016 and updated them on 2 November 2017. We also searched clinical trial registries. We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions to prevent adverse gastrointestinal effects of pelvic radiotherapy among adults receiving radiotherapy to treat primary pelvic cancers, including radiotherapy techniques, other aspects of radiotherapy delivery, pharmacological interventions and non-pharmacological interventions. Studies needed a sample size of 20 or more participants and needed to evaluate gastrointestinal toxicity outcomes. We excluded studies that evaluated dosimetric parameters only. We also excluded trials of interventions to treat acute gastrointestinal symptoms, trials of altered fractionation and dose escalation schedules, and trials of pre- versus postoperative radiotherapy regimens, to restrict the vast scope of the review. We used standard Cochrane methodology. We used the random-effects statistical model for all meta-analyses, and the GRADE system to rate the certainty of the evidence. We included 92 RCTs involving more than 10,000 men and women undergoing pelvic radiotherapy. Trials involved 44 different interventions, including radiotherapy techniques (11 trials, 4 interventions/comparisons), other aspects of radiotherapy delivery (14 trials, 10 interventions), pharmacological interventions (38 trials, 16 interventions), and non-pharmacological interventions (29 trials, 13 interventions). Most studies (79/92) had design limitations. Thirteen studies had a low risk of bias, 50 studies had an unclear risk of bias and 29 studies had a high risk of bias. Main findings include the following:Radiotherapy techniques: Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) versus 3D conformal RT (3DCRT) may reduce acute (risk ratio (RR) 0.48, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.26 to 0.88; participants = 444; studies = 4; I2 = 77%; low-certainty evidence) and late gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity grade 2+ (RR 0.37, 95% CI 0.21 to 0.65; participants = 332; studies = 2; I2 = 0%; low-certainty evidence). Conformal RT (3DCRT or IMRT) versus conventional RT reduces acute GI toxicity grade 2+ (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.82; participants = 307; studies = 2; I2 = 0%; high-certainty evidence) and probably leads to less late GI toxicity grade 2+ (RR 0.49, 95% CI 0.22 to 1.09; participants = 517; studies = 3; I2 = 44%; moderate-certainty evidence). When brachytherapy (BT) is used instead of external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) in early endometrial cancer, evidence indicates that it reduces acute GI toxicity (grade 2+) (RR 0.02, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.18; participants = 423; studies = 1; high-certainty evidence).Other aspects of radiotherapy delivery: There is probably little or no difference in acute GI toxicity grade 2+ with reduced radiation dose volume (RR 1.21, 95% CI 0.81 to 1.81; participants = 211; studies = 1; moderate-certainty evidence) and maybe no difference in late GI toxicity grade 2+ (RR 1.02, 95% CI 0.15 to 6.97; participants = 107; studies = 1; low-certainty evidence). Evening delivery of RT may reduce acute GI toxicity (diarrhoea) grade 2+ during RT compared with morning delivery of RT (RR 0.51, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.76; participants = 294; studies = 2; I2 = 0%; low-certainty evidence). There may be no difference in acute (RR 2.22, 95% CI 0.62 to 7.93, participants = 110; studies = 1) and late GI toxicity grade 2+ (RR 0.44, 95% CI 0.12 to 1.65; participants = 81; studies = 1) between a bladder volume preparation of 1080 mls and that of 540 mls (low-certainty evidence). Low-certainty evidence on balloon and hydrogel spacers suggests that these interventions for prostate cancer RT may make little or no difference to GI outcomes.Pharmacological interventions: Evidence for any beneficial effects of aminosalicylates, sucralfate, amifostine, corticosteroid enemas, bile acid sequestrants, famotidine and selenium is of a low or very low certainty. However, evidence on certain aminosalicylates (mesalazine, olsalazine), misoprostol suppositories, oral magnesium oxide and octreotide injections suggests that these agents may worsen GI symptoms, such as diarrhoea or rectal bleeding.Non-pharmacological interventions: Low-certainty evidence suggests that protein supplements (RR 0.23, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.74; participants = 74; studies = 1), dietary counselling (RR 0.04, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.60; participants = 74; studies = 1) and probiotics (RR 0.43, 95% CI 0.22 to 0.82; participants = 923; studies = 5; I2 = 91%) may reduce acute RT-related diarrhoea (grade 2+). Dietary counselling may also reduce diarrhoeal symptoms in the long term (at five years, RR 0.05, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.78; participants = 61; studies = 1). Low-certainty evidence from one study (108 participants) suggests that a high-fibre diet may have a beneficial effect on GI symptoms (mean difference (MD) 6.10, 95% CI 1.71 to 10.49) and quality of life (MD 20.50, 95% CI 9.97 to 31.03) at one year. High-certainty evidence indicates that glutamine supplements do not prevent RT-induced diarrhoea. Evidence on various other non-pharmacological interventions, such as green tea tablets, is lacking.Quality of life was rarely and inconsistently reported across included studies, and the available data were seldom adequate for meta-analysis. Conformal radiotherapy techniques are an improvement on older radiotherapy techniques. IMRT may be better than 3DCRT in terms of GI toxicity, but the evidence to support this is uncertain. There is no high-quality evidence to support the use of any other prophylactic intervention evaluated. However, evidence on some potential interventions shows that they probably have no role to play in reducing RT-related GI toxicity. More RCTs are needed for interventions with limited evidence suggesting potential benefits.

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Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 508 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 508 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 67 13%
Student > Bachelor 63 12%
Researcher 49 10%
Student > Ph. D. Student 37 7%
Other 35 7%
Other 68 13%
Unknown 189 37%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 143 28%
Nursing and Health Professions 62 12%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 14 3%
Social Sciences 13 3%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 12 2%
Other 55 11%
Unknown 209 41%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 19. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 20 July 2021.
All research outputs
of 25,461,852 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 12,090 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 450,721 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 168 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 25,461,852 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 92nd percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,090 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 38.2. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 66% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 450,721 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 90% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 168 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one is in the 43rd percentile – i.e., 43% of its contemporaries scored the same or lower than it.