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Radiotherapy for bladder cancer

Radiotherapy involves a course of treatments at the hospital. A machine is used to produce radiation (very much like Xrays) which is then directed at the cancer. Radiotherapy involves daily treatments and goes on for several weeks.

Radiotherapy means that the cancer can be treated without needing major surgery, and this is particularly good for patients with other medical problems for whom major surgery would be very hazardous. Radiotherapy is not ideal for all patients, however: some types of cancer are less susceptible to radiotherapy and your specialist will advise you what the best options are.

New technologies have been developed which allow the radiation to be targetted at the tumour while avoiding the normal tissues that are nearby. However, the nearby tissues do invariably get some degree of radiation damage. Side effects include:

  • tiredness, particularly during the treatment course
  • going to pass urine frequently or having to rush to pass urine
  • blood in the urine
  • an irritable bowel (eg diarrhoea)
  • pelvic discomfort

Radiotherapy is undertaken by Oncology specialists rather than Urologists. If radiotherapy is required, you urologist will recommend an appropriate expert to advise you.