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What to Expect After Radiation Therapy for Bladder Cancer

Because radiation affects normal cells as well as cancer cells, you may have some side effects from this treatment. Usually, the risk of side effects is far less than the benefit of killing cancer cells. Many people have no side effects at all. If you do have them, they relate to the dose of radiation you get and the area of your cancer, and they are generally limited to the area that’s been treated.

The side effects of radiation treatment can be unpleasant, but they usually aren’t dangerous. Talk with your doctor or nurse about how to control them. Most of these usually go away a few weeks after you stop getting treatment.

Here are some side effects that are common with radiation treatment: 

  • Fatigue

  • Mild skin irritation where the radiation was given

  • Bladder irritation caused by the radiation

  • Diarrhea, due to irritation of the rectum caused by radiation

  • Urinary incontinence

  • Impotence in men

  • Vaginal dryness in women

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Bowel incontinence

It may be helpful to keep a log of your side effect symptoms. A written list will make it easier for you to remember your questions at your appointments. It will also make it much easier for your medical team to identify appropriate treatments for your concerns. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Foster, Sara, RN, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 12/30/2013
© 2013 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.