To help patients and their families understand how radiation therapy works in conjunction with other treatments to cure bladder cancer, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology has developed a brochure, Radiation Therapy for Bladder Cancer, that patients can use to talk with their healthcare providers when contemplating radiation therapy as part of their treatment. The brochure also helps patients find support groups and information on clinical trials.
“Radiation therapy is a treatment option that patients with bladder cancer should consider,” said Gregory Patton, M.D., Vice-chair of ASTRO’s Communications Committee and a radiation oncologist at Northwest Cancer Specialists in Portland, Ore. “I hope this brochure will help people with bladder cancer better understand their treatment options so they can make the best, most informed decision on their care.”
Radiation therapy works within cancer cells by damaging their ability to multiply; when the cancerous cells die, the body naturally eliminates them. External beam radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation used to combat bladder cancer and is often used in combination with chemotherapy and surgery. Patients receive radiation therapy through a series of daily outpatient treatments that last around a half hour each day for five to seven weeks. As with any treatment option, radiation therapy has some temporary side effects that may include skin irritation, nausea, bladder irritation with increased frequency of urination, abdominal cramping and fatigue.
The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 63,000 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. Fortunately, with modern treatments and early detection, the five-year survival rate for all types of bladder cancer is 82 percent. Some specific risk factors for bladder cancer include smoking tobacco products, working in jobs where there is possible chemical exposure, and chronic bladder inflammation such as urinary tract infections, bladder stones and kidney stones.
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD