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Cancer Health Center

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Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Urinary System


Talk to your child's doctor about whether your child needs to have tests and procedures to check for signs of kidney late effects. If tests are needed, find out how often they should be done.

Health habits that promote healthy kidneys are important for survivors of childhood cancer.

Childhood cancer survivors who had all or part of their kidney removed should talk to their doctor about the following:

  • Whether it is safe to play sports that have a high risk of heavy contact or impact such as football or hockey.
  • Bicycle safety and avoiding handlebar injuries.
  • Wearing a seatbelt around the hips, not the waist.


Surgery to the pelvic area and certain chemotherapy drugs increase the risk of bladder late effects.

The risk of health problems that affect the bladder increases after treatment with the following:

  • Surgery to remove all or part of the bladder.
  • Surgery to the pelvis or brain.
  • Certain chemotherapy drugs, such as cyclophosphamide or ifosfamide.
  • Radiation therapy to areas near the bladder or urinary tract.

Late effects that affect the bladder may cause certain health problems.

Bladder late effects include the following:

  • Hemorrhagic cystitis (inflammation of the inside of the bladder wall, which leads to bleeding).
  • Thickening of the bladder wall.
  • Trouble emptying the bladder.
  • Incontinence.
  • A blockage in the kidney, ureter, bladder, or urethra.

Possible signs and symptoms of bladder late effects include changes in urination and swelling of the feet or hands.

These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by bladder late effects or by other conditions:

  • Feeling the need to urinate without being able to do so.
  • Frequent urination (especially at night).
  • Trouble urinating.
  • Feeling like the bladder does not empty completely after urination.
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles, feet, face, or hands.
  • Little or no bladder control.
  • Blood in the urine.

Talk to your child's doctor if your child has any of these problems.

Certain tests and procedures are used to detect (find) and diagnose health problems in the bladder.

These and other tests and procedures may be used to detect or diagnose bladder late effects:

  • Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
  • Blood chemistry study: A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances, such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium, released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance may be a sign of bladder problems.
  • Urinalysis: A test to check the color of urine and its contents, such as sugar, protein, red blood cells, and white blood cells.
  • Ultrasound exam: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs, such as the kidney and bladder, and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. The picture can be printed to be looked at later.

Talk to your child's doctor about whether your child needs to have tests and procedures to check for signs of bladder late effects. If tests are needed, find out how often they should be done.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: May 28, 2015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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