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full bladder during radiation

sephie's picture
sephie
Posts: 543
Joined: Apr 2009

just caught this in some posts. why do they want you to have full bladder during radiation? sephie

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 3075
Joined: Jan 2010

Sephie, my rad onc told me that the full bladder will help protect it from the radiation. Even though he said he "shielded" my bladder when they did the radiation sim, this was just an added measure to make sure it did not suffer damage. This seems to be advice that some people do not get, which is confusing to me.

Angela_K
Posts: 374
Joined: Jan 2011

First time I've heard of this.

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 3075
Joined: Jan 2010

Angela, when I was lying on the radiation machine, I could read the computer screen in the room that gave my name and other identifying information, along with some technical information as to my treatment. It also always said "full bladder" next to patient instructions.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 852
Joined: May 2011

I never saw that. Thanks. I'll take a look. The technologists are so sweet. They get me off the table in record time so I can go to the bathroom.God bless these people who work in this field of helping cancer illness sufferers. (I hate the word victim).

sephie's picture
sephie
Posts: 543
Joined: Apr 2009

that is what i thought it would be far and that makes me sick that at MDAnderson they never told me to do this. i would have done anything to protect my organs. i do have radiation damage to my bladder which showed up on my cystoscope that i had performed last year due to blood always being in my urine when a urinalysis is done. also, after I was finished with my tx in July 2009, in sept 2009 , MDA started to place the dilator in the vagina during radiation to protect bladder and vagina. oh well, learn learn learn. thx sephie

lizdeli's picture
lizdeli
Posts: 522
Joined: Jul 2009

I never had a full bladder during radiation. Actually I made sure it was empty prior to going into the room. I was treated at MDA and they used the vaginal dilator and the thought of being in that positon, staying still, for 33 minutes made me worry that if my bladder was full...well you know.

They did tell me that I needed to drink tons of water to protect my kidneys because of the Cisplatin chemo. But never mentioned a full bladder during radiation. I couldn't have done it anyway given the circumstances. Fortunately I don't have any bladder damage.

Liz

sephie's picture
sephie
Posts: 543
Joined: Apr 2009

hey, liz, my last radiation tx was July 8 2009(started june 2) at MDA so perhaps they started the dilator thing sooner than i thought but they never put it inside me during radiation. when did you start radiat.tx? i had mitomycin with my 5 fu. wish i had met you if we were there at the same time. thanks for info. sephie

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 852
Joined: May 2011

That sounds clever of them.

I have heard before that cancer centers don't often share information. This is living proof.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 852
Joined: May 2011

How long have you been out of treatment? You are cancer free? Do you have many symptoms from the treatments?

Captain11
Posts: 88
Joined: Apr 2011

Hi, Sandy, I completed tx in March 2010 and I am currently 15 months cancer-free. I have a lot of side effects from the treatments: peripheral neuropathy, in hands and feet, loss of balance, stiffness while sitting, weakness while standing/walking, frequent fecal urgency (not really diarhea, just urgency), and fatigue. Because I knit, sew, crochet, etc, the neuropathy in my hands has all but gone. I had no control of writing utensils, food utensils, couldn't hold onto things, etc. With the help of physical therapy and pool therapy, my balance has improved, but I have a ways to go. It is apparent that I will have the neuropathy in my feet probably forever. I just saw my primary care doc and asked about the neuropathy and numbness in my legs and feet. Actually my legs feel like they are completely frozen. She said it is possibly nerve damage and may not ever improve. But, I still have to do physical therapy for strength training. It may be the nerve damage that has caused the balance problem. It is not a wise thing for me to drive, since my feet tend to go numb; so there goes my job for a while longer. I try to stand every 10 minutes or so, in order to loosen up the stiffness. When I cook, do dishes, iron clothes, etc, I have a bar stool or a chair nearby so that I can lean back if I get weak from standing. That all has to do with the loss of balance. My husband helps me in the shower. If I close my eyes, I lose my balance; so, he is there to help me. I use the imodium almost every day. I plan my shopping, etc, so that I go to the stores where I know there is a bathroom available, instantly. I use a cane, but it mostly gets in the way... so when I don't use it, I wobble like a weeble that won't fall down. My doc suggested using walking sticks, like ski poles, so that I can exercise my arms as well. I will try that and hopefully it will help. I do get a burst of energy, but it is nothing like what I had prior to the cancer. Each month that goes by, I notice I can tackle another project. If I overdo I feel it the next day. I get really wiped out.
The strangest part of it all is that I have had no pain through all of this, other than the usual discomfort from diarhea. I had no pain, no symptoms, no warnings. Going through the radiation and chemo, I had a jolly attitude; I jumped up on the exam table; skipped into the radiation room...no problems, no lack of energy, nothing. I was diagnosed when I was 58. I am now 60.
I am sorry for running on like this; but, I thought you might want to know what is possible, so that if it happens, which I pray that it doesn't, you can discuss it with your onc.
I hope your treatments are going well for you, and that you are having an easy time of it. Keep us posted. God bless. And thanks for caring.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 852
Joined: May 2011

My mother-in-law, bless her heart, got walking sticks and loves them because she was so worried about her posture. I said yes your breathing will be so much better now. But she said "it my looks I'm thinking about!" Ha, ha, ha! She just turned 90 and I hope to be that determined when I'm her age.

I am looking back and thinking about buying into the "may never improve" thing when sometimes it was something like AZO or the generic equivalent that was right there all the time and this "expert" never bothered to find out about it or share that information. I have a chronic problem with urgency and tried a very expensive medication (Detrol) that had terrible side affects when AZO was there all those years. It was several years after I gave up on Detrol that I found the over the counter medication that works for me for 6 dollars a month!

Thank you for sharing your journey. I am praying this nerve damage will reverse itself soon for you. xoxoxo

Captain11
Posts: 88
Joined: Apr 2011

Hi, Sandy, Isn't AZO for bladder? I am wondering if there isn't something in my pantry that can help me. My parents went through the Great Depression... I have learned a few concoctions which store products cannot hold a candle to. Maybe I will sit and meditate for a day and try to drag up some homeopathic remedies from the past. Thanks for giving me a mental jump=start. God bless.

sephie's picture
sephie
Posts: 543
Joined: Apr 2009

i left MDA on July 20, 2009 so we would not have met each other. did not have the dilator inserted during radiation. glad they are learning how to help us more and more. sephie

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 852
Joined: May 2011

The radiologist did a "dry run through" of the radiation process after they made my "form". Then they actuually called me and told me, "don't urinate before you leave home." I have an overactive bladder so I said "I HAVE TO - IT'S A THITY MINUTE DRIVE AND THEN YOU MAKE ME WAIT FOR YOU!" They called me back and said, don't pee after you get here. They are so sweet. They rush around getting me off the table so I can pee but I am taking AZO pills again which help my urgency. I believe this problem is also caused from HPV but have never read anything to substantiate this. For that dry run through I urinated four times before getting on the table!

Captain11
Posts: 88
Joined: Apr 2011

Hi, All This is the first time I heard anything about a full bladder. I have a couple of questions for all of you on this post. First, I know we all respond differently to the treatments, but why are some of you getting 30-minute zaps, etc, while all I got was about 5? The other is that most of us started with the radiation and the mitomicin; but, are there some of you who got the cisplatin first?? I got the mitomycin and 5fu with radiation, but since my tumors spread I went through my second tour with the 5fu and the cisplatin. The cisplatin treatment requires the lasix, etc, and that was the only time I had REAL urgency to tinkle. And it only lasted for about 45 minutes while receiving the cisplatin, potassium, and magnesium infusions. I thought that oncologists had a set plan of action for each type of cancer. Why is there differing approaches to the same thing?? Is it the cancer treatment center??? (I go to one in upstate NY.)
I am sorry that we are on this forum in the first place... but I have to thank each and every one of you for your insight, your experiences, your trials, and your well-wishes to each other. May God bless us all and hopefully someday soon there will be an answer and a cure for all of this mess. God bless.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 852
Joined: May 2011

Maybe it was because of the type of radiation you were getting? I don't know anything about cisplatin. My understanding is that what Sloan is doing to me is a protocol for this cancer and it sounds like it is what most people here are getting. It concerns me that maybe you didn't get the right treatment for your cancer. God bless you. I hope not. You are a wonderful contributor here. You have often helped me. Thank you.

Diane H.
Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2011

My radiologist mentioned this to me today at my first visit. She said that having a full bladder moves it upward in position, allowing it to escape some of the radiation. It's certainly not fullproof, but can help prevent damage to the bladder.

lizdeli's picture
lizdeli
Posts: 522
Joined: Jul 2009

I could'nt tell who all the questions were intended for, so I'll answer as many as I can based on my experience.

I was diagonsed two years ago today. 2.5cm tumor and two very small spots in perirectal lymph nodes.
I began treatment at MD Anderson on 8/5/09.
Cisplatin once a week for seven weeks, 5FU pump 24X7 5 days a week for 7 weeks
Radiation (IMRT radiation) 5 days a week for 7 weeks abut 30 minutes each session.
They did use the vaginal dilalor from day one of radiation to the end of treatment.
As for Cisplatin versus Mito...that is Dr. Eng's preference. I was told it was less toxic on the body but that it was necessary to drink tons of water to protect kidneys and maybe bladder, I can't remember.
No mouth sores from chemo and very little nausea - I took the meds.
Finished treatment on 9/11/09.
I go back to MDA every 3 months. First year it was blood work, scopes, and CT scans every 3 months. Now I go for blood work and general exam and 3 months later back for blood, scopes, CT scans,etc. Next big appointment is on 8/23 and I'm hoping and praying all is well so that I can celebrate the 2 year mark.
Lingering side affects - fatigue from time to time - that could also be from having a very stressful job and doing a lot of business travel, but what the heck I'll blame it on the treatment for now. Also, my upper legs are not as strong but I'm working on that.

Hope this helps,
Hugs to all
Healing to all
Liz
I have been NED going on 2 years.
Initially aching pain in my upper thighs and hips as well as lower back shortly after treatment. That has subsided a lot over the past 4 months. I'm exercising again and it has been helping.

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