Radiation treatment for bladder cancer uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It may be given after surgery. It may be used along with chemotherapy. Sometimes it is used instead of surgery or chemotherapy.
- External beam radiation comes from a machine outside the body. The machine aims radiation at the area where the cancer cells are found.
- Internal radiation uses needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that contain radioactive materials placed close to or directly into the bladder.
Which treatment you receive will depend on the type and stage of your cancer.
Side effects of radiation may include:
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Pain or discomfort when you urinate.
- An increased risk for infection.
- In women, changes to the cells lining the vagina. These changes can make intercourse difficult or painful.
- In men, erection problems if the nerves that control erection were affected by radiation.
Your doctor may talk to you about joining a research study called a clinical trial if one is available in your area. Clinical trials are research studies to look for ways to improve treatments for bladder cancer. Experts are doing studies on:
- Chemoprevention for early-stage bladder cancer. This is the use of medicines or vitamins to reduce the risk of getting cancer or having cancer come back.
- Photodynamic therapy. This uses medicine and a special light to treat the cancer.
For some people with bladder cancer, clinical trials may offer the best treatment available.
People sometimes use complementary therapies along with medical treatment to help relieve symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments. Some of the complementary therapies that may be helpful include:
- Acupuncture to relieve pain.
- Meditation or yoga to relieve stress.
- Massage and biofeedback to reduce pain and ease tension.
- Breathing exercises for relaxation.
Before you try a complementary therapy, talk to your doctor about the possible value and potential side effects. Let your doctor know if you are already using any such therapies. They are not meant to take the place of standard medical treatment.