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Dietary advice provided to those undergoing pelvic radiotherapy

  • Nickola Pallin (a1) and Jane Richardson (a1)

In those receiving radiotherapy for pelvic cancers, up to 80% develop gastrointestinal symptoms, with dietary interventions recommended to reduce these symptoms. However, research outlining the current dietary support provided to patients undergoing radiotherapy for pelvic cancer is lacking.


To identify the gastrointestinal symptoms experienced by those undergoing pelvic radiotherapy and to identify the dietary support provided to these patients.

Methods and materials

A service evaluation was undertaken in one NHS Trust hospital whereby patients undergoing radical pelvic radiotherapy during a 15-week recruitment period were invited to complete an anonymous questionnaire. Participants were recruited using purposive sampling and the data were analysed descriptively using SPSS.


In total, 31 patients responded achieving a response rate of 48%. The most frequent reported gastrointestinal symptoms were gas and flatulence followed by diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal pain. The main dietary changes implemented by the respondents and recommended by health care professionals included reducing fibre intake, reducing certain vegetables, reducing caffeine and increasing water.


The results illustrate the impact of gastrointestinal side effects on patients’ dietary intake. The results highlight that nutritional guidance need to be standardised, especially for the management of diarrhoea and gas and flatulence as these were the most common occurring side effects. With radiographers most frequently giving nutritional advice they must be provided with guidance to support those undergoing pelvic radiotherapy.

Corresponding author
Correspondence to: Nickola Pallin, Institute of Health and Society, University of Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester, UK. Tel: 020 7935 8544. E-mail:
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