It is generally conceded that carcinoma of the rectum is best treated by surgical extirpation. Treatment by irradiation is occasionally advocated for lesions believed to be of low malignancy. Though popular in some foreign clinics, this modality is rarely used in the United States because many patients develop a severe proctitis, producing disabling symptoms for a prolonged period. Recently we had occasion to treat one patient by radium who refused surgical extirpation of his lesion. Two years later a severe electrolyte imbalance developed that was attributed to irradiation proctitis. In view of the recent report by Starr and his associates of a case of "villous adenoma" of the colon associated with severe hypopotassemia,1 the question of the possibility that the electrolyte imbalance might be a complication of the primary lesion was raised.
Report of a Case
A 56-year-old white man was admitted to the Veterans' Administration Hospital, Houston, Texas,