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Goal of Radiation Therapy for Bladder Cancer

Radiation therapy is also called radiotherapy. It is one way to treat bladder cancer.

Radiation uses high-energy X-ray beams to kill cancer cells. Radiation that comes from a machine outside the body is called external beam radiation therapy (EBRT). Internal or interstitial radiation therapy uses a small pellet of radioactive material placed directly into the cancer.

Radiation to treat bladder cancer is done most often after surgery. Then its goal is to make sure that all the cancer cells in your body are destroyed. After surgery, it's called adjuvant radiation.

In other cases, you may have radiation and chemotherapy to treat bladder cancer. The goal of this combined treatment may vary depending on the stage of your cancer.

  • If you have superficial cancer, meaning it has not spread beyond the inner lining of the bladder, the goal of these treatments may be to avoid surgery and leave you with a functioning bladder.

  • If you have advanced cancer, the goal may be to treat the cancer when you are too ill to have surgery. Or the goal may be to ease symptoms, such as urine blockage or pain.