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Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer begins when cells along the lining of the bladder change where they start to group together.  Over time, this can develop into a tumor (large group of cancer cells) or can even spread to another part of the body.  A common first place for bladder cancer to spread is to the nearby lymph nodes.

Radiation therapy is a treatment that can be used for bladder cancer.  The technology we use and the number of treatments depends on how advanced the cancer is (stage) and what type of symptoms you have (if any).   


If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, click the link below to request a consultation with a Coastal Radiation Oncologist.

  • Typical Treatments

    Once a diagnosis of bladder cancer has been established, the most common type of treatment is some form of surgery.  This can either be partial surgery (removal of the tumor only) or full surgery (removal of the entire bladder, which is called a cystectomy).

    Surgery can be paired with chemotherapy, which is medicine inserted into the body to help kill cancer cells.  If this is done, chemotherapy is often used before surgery to make the surgery more successful.

    For tumors that have spread into the muscle layer of the bladder, an alternative to surgery is using radiation therapy and chemotherapy to kill the tumor cells.  After treatment is over, a urologist will check inside the bladder from time to time to see if full removal of the bladder will be needed or not.  Most patients treated with this technique keep their natural bladder and are able to pass urine in a normal way.  This treatment is called Tri-Modality Therapy because it uses radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and sometimes surgery together to achieve the best results.


    For information about the types of technology available through Coastal Radiation Oncology 


    Click Here

  • What To Expect

    Once your doctors have determined that radiation therapy may be part of the treatment plan for your Bladder Cancer, there will be a few steps to allow the radiation oncology team to begin treatment safely. 


    These include:


     - CT simulation
     - Treatment plan design (dosimetry)

     - Verification

     - Start of daily treatments

     - Weekly doctor visits with your radiation oncologist


  • Side Effects

    Short term:

    Many people do not develop significant side effects during radiation treatment.  If you are considering radiation therapy as part of your cancer treatment, it is important to know what side effects are possible so you can make a good decision about the treatment that is right for you.

    More likely

    • Urinary frequency/urgency

    • Straining to urinate

    • Fatigue

    • Loose stools/diarrhea

    • Blood in urine

    • Low blood counts (less likely)

    • Skin redness/irritation

    • Hair loss (in the treated area)


    Long term:

    After the short-term side effects of radiation therapy resolve, others may become noticeable months or years later.

    More likely

    • Urinary frequency/urgency

    • Blood in urine

    • Urethral stricture

    • Loose stools/diarrhea

    • Rectal bleeding

    Less likely

    • Decreased erections

    • Sterility/infertility

    • Cancers caused by radiation (very unlikely)

  • More Information

    For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer, please visit the following websites:

    RT Answers

    American Cancer Society


Coastal Radiation Oncology Medical Center

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