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Radiation therapy uses high-dose X-rays or
other types of radiation to destroy
bladder cancer cells. It may be used alone, before
surgery to shrink the cancer, or after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer
cells. Radiation therapy may also be used if a person with bladder cancer
cannot have surgery.
External beam radiation comes from a machine
outside the body. The machine aims radiation at the cancer area. Most people
who receive external beam radiation therapy for bladder cancer are treated 5
days a week for 6 to 7 weeks as an outpatient.
(interstitial) radiation therapy (brachytherapy) uses radioactive material
contained in tiny tubes, wires, or beads. These are surgically placed in or
near the tumor.
Radiation therapy for bladder cancer
often causes fatigue. You may also have problems with nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea, or urinary discomfort. Home treatment and medicine may help relieve
these side effects.
Both men and women may have sexual problems
following radiation therapy for bladder cancer. Women may have vaginal dryness,
and men may have
Radiation therapy destroys cancer
cells. It may be used with surgery to prevent bladder cancer from coming back
(recurring). It is also a treatment choice if surgery is not recommended for
another medical reason. Radiation can also be used to
treat symptoms such as pain in advanced bladder
Radiation therapy helps prevent
recurrence of bladder cancer. It is more effective when it is used in
combination with chemotherapy than when it is used alone.1
Radiation therapy may cause a decrease in your
white blood cells (leukopenia), which increases your risk of developing an
infection. Your doctor will monitor your blood counts regularly and may change
your treatment schedule until your white blood cell count returns to normal.
You may also have side effects from radiation, such as:
Home treatment and medicine may help relieve these side
Radiation therapy can cause scar
tissue in the treated area. If cancer progresses after radiation therapy, the
scar tissue can make surgery more complicated.1
External radiation may darken your skin color,
and the change may be permanent. You may also lose your hair in the treated
area, but usually it grows back.
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
Raghavan D (2003). Bladder, renal, and testicular
cancer. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., Scientific American Medicine, section 12, chap. 14. New York: WebMD.
May 2, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
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