Side Effect Management

Learn About Bladder Treatment Side Effects


It helps to learn more about the side effects from your treatment(s) before you begin, so you will know what to expect. When you know more, you can work with your health care team to manage your quality of life during and after treatment.

There are effective and readily available medications to address traditional side effects from cancer treatment (such as nausea, diarrhea, constipation and mouth sores.) Also, as newer 'targeted therapies' become available, they tend to leave people with fewer traditional side effects.

Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to treatment and experiences side effects differently. There are coping mechanisms and strategies that can help.

Bladder Cancer Treatment Side Effects Vary According to Treatments


The most commonly reported symptoms are the following:

Surgery


  • Radical Cystectomy - Bladder cancer surgery may affect the patient’s sexual function. After a radical cystectomy, women are not able to get pregnant and menopause occurs immediately. Sexual intercourse may be difficult. Some men are impotent after radical cystectomy. 
  • Segmental Cystectomy - After segmental cystectomy, patients may need to urinate more often than they used to and may not be able to hold as much urine in their bladder. Often, this problem is temporary, but some patients may have long-lasting changes in how much urine they can hold. 
Radiation Therapy 
Radiation therapy to the abdomen may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or urinary discomfort. Radiation treatment for bladder cancer can affect sexuality in both men and women. Women may experience vaginal dryness, and men may have difficulty with erections.

Chemotherapy
Side effects depend on the specific drugs and the dose and include hair loss, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and mouth sores. Certain drugs used in the treatment of bladder cancer also may cause kidney damage.

Biological Therapy
Side effects include irritation of the bladder, urgent need to urinate or frequent urination, pain when urinating and fatigue. Some patients may have blood in the urine, nausea, a low-grade fever, or chills.

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