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Radiation Therapy for Bladder Cancer

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Radiation Therapy for Bladder Cancer

Radiation therapy is a method used to kill cancer cells. The goal is to try and kill as much cancer as possible. It tends to work best when used with other treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy . It may be used to kill any cancer cells left behind after surgery. Rarely, it may be used for people who cannot have surgery.

External beam radiation is used to treat bladder cancer. Radiation is made by a machine outside the body. Short bursts are aimed at the cancer.

Radiation of a Tumor.

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As with other methods, there are side effects. These may include:

  • Erection problems
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Infertility—not being able to have children (there may be options to preserve fertility before treatment starts)
  • Dry skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness

There are many ways to manage these problems. In some cases, the dose may be changed. Addressing problems right away helps control them better.


  • Bladder cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bladder-cancer. Accessed April 1, 2022.
  • Bladder cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/genitourinary-cancer/bladder-cancer. Accessed April 1, 2022.
  • Radiation therapy for bladder cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladder-cancer/treating/radiation.html. Accessed April 1, 2022.
  • Bladder cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/bladder/patient/bladder-treatment-pdq. Accessed April 1, 2022.


  • Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.