- Cancer Information
- Cancer treatment
- Radiation therapy
- Managing radiation therapy side effects
- Bladder problems
Radiation therapy to the abdomen or pelvic area can irritate the bladder or, more often, the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body).
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You may feel you want to pass urine more often or you might have some stinging when you pass urine. This is called cystitis. Try to drink plenty of water to make your urine less concentrated.
Incontinence is when urine leaks from your bladder without your control. After radiation therapy, you may need to pass urine more often, particularly at night, or feel as if you need to go in a hurry. You may leak a few drops of urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or strain. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can help with bladder control. Ask your doctor for a referral to a continence nurse or physiotherapist, or contact the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.
Let your treatment team know if you have bladder or urinary problems, as they will be able to suggest strategies and may recommend medicines. To help manage these side effects, drink plenty of fluids and avoid drinking strong coffee, tea and alcohol.
|The blood vessels in the bladder and bowel can become more fragile after radiation therapy. This can cause blood to appear in your urine or bowel movements, even months or years after treatment. Always let your doctor know if you notice new or unusual bleeding.|
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Dr Madhavi Chilkuri, Radiation Oncologist, Townsville Cancer Centre, The Townsville Hospital, and Dean, RANZCR Faculty of Radiation Oncology, QLD; Polly Baldwin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Patricia Hanley, Consumer; Prof Michael Hofman, Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Physician, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Leanne Hoy, Cancer Nurse Consultant, GenesisCare, VIC; Sharon King, Accredited Practising Dietitian, TAS; Dr Yoo Young (Dominique) Lee, Radiation Oncology Consultant, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Dr Wendy Phillips, Senior Medical Physicist, Department of Radiation Oncology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Katrina Rech, Radiation Therapist and Quality Systems Manager, GenesisCare, SA. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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