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Bladder cancer

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Radiation therapy for bladder cancer

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat bladder cancer. Your healthcare team will consider your personal needs to plan the type and amount of radiation, and when and how it is given. You may also receive other treatments.

Radiation therapy is given for different reasons. You may have radiation therapy:

  • to shrink a tumour before other treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy (called neoadjuvant therapy)
  • as well as a transurethral resection (TUR) and chemotherapy as the primary treatment for bladder cancer that has grown from the lining of the bladder into deeper layers of the bladder wall (called invasive bladder cancer)
  • as the primary treatment if you do not want surgery or cannot have surgery
  • to relieve pain or to control the symptoms of advanced bladder cancer (palliative radiation therapy)

External beam radiation therapy

During external beam radiation therapy, a machine directs radiation through the skin to the tumour and some of the tissue around it. It is usually given 5 days a week, for 4–7 weeks. Palliative radiation therapy may be given for a shorter amount of time.

External beam radiation therapy is often given as well as chemotherapy after a transurethral resection (TUR). Doctors may try this combination of 3 treatments (called trimodal therapy) so that the bladder doesn’t need to be removed.

Questions to ask about radiation therapy

Find out more about radiation therapy. To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about radiation therapy.

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