After treatment for cancer of the uterus, some women experience bladder problems. Most bladder side effects are temporary or can be managed.
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Some women find they need to pass urine more often, or feel that they need to go in a hurry. Others may leak urine when they cough, sneeze, strain or lift.
For information about how to manage accidental or involuntary loss of urine (urinary incontinence), talk to the hospital continence nurse or a women’s health physiotherapist. They will explain how to do exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. You could also visit the Australian Government’s bladder and bowel website, or contact the Continence Foundation of Australia on 1800 33 00 66.
For more on this, see Exercise during cancer treatment.
Radiation therapy can irritate the lining of the bladder, causing a burning sensation when you urinate and the need to pass urine more often than usual. This is known as radiation cystitis.
Try to drink plenty of water to make your urine less concentrated. Urinary alkalisers (e.g. Ural) are available over-the-counter from pharmacies and can help by making the urine less acidic. Your doctor may also prescribe medicine to treat cystitis.
The blood vessels in the bladder can become more fragile after radiation therapy. This can cause blood to appear in your urine, 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.
A/Prof Alison Brand, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Prof Jonathan Carter, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Dr Robyn Cheuk, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Dr Alison Davis, Medical Oncologist, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, The Canberra Hospital, ACT; Kim Hobbs, Clinical Specialist Social Worker, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Nicole Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jennifer Loveridge, Consumer; Pauline Tanner, Gynaecology Cancer Nurse Coordinator, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, North Metropolitan Health Service, WA. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title. .
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