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New guidance has been published recommending a form of radiotherapy to treat people with early-stage rectal cancer in Wales.

A healthcare professional taking notes at a meeting

Health Technology Wales has published guidance on low energy contact x-ray brachytherapy (CXB) – a form of radiotherapy that can be given alongside standard chemoradiotherapy.

Rectal cancer is usually treated with surgery. Chemoradiotherapy can be given before or after surgery. 

For people with early-stage rectal cancer, having CXB alongside chemoradiotherapy acts as a radiotherapy boost which can potentially improve their outcomes enough for them not to need surgery. This would mean avoiding the side effects of surgery, such as a stoma.

According to Health Technology Wales’s guidance, the evidence supports the routine adoption of CXB in addition to chemoradiotherapy for people with early-stage rectal cancer who are suitable for surgery. 

It found that the use of CXB increases treatment response rates and organ preservation and reduces the need for surgery, compared with using external beam radiotherapy as a boost alongside chemoradiotherapy. 

Health Technology Wales’s economic modelling also found that CXB is cost effective.

Read the guidance in full