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Find A Radiation Oncologist

External Beam Therapy

External beam radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) involves a series of daily treatments to accurately deliver radiation to the bladder and pelvis. Research trials have shown that radiation and chemotherapy can permit some bladder cancer patients to have organ-preserving treatment that doesn't require complete removal of the bladder.

Before treatment begins, your treatment plan will be designed. A CT scan is done in the position you will be treated, often with a supportive device to keep you comfortably in the same position for treatment. Using information from your pathology, imaging and exam, your doctor will design a treatment plan to treat the bladder and pelvis.

With external beam therapy, treatment is delivered in a series of daily sessions, Monday through Friday, for several weeks. Each treatment is painless, noninvasive and similar to a long X-ray: you hear noise but will feel nothing. Each day, you will feel the same when you leave as you did when you came.

The radiation beam is usually generated by a machine called a linear accelerator, or linac. Doctors use this machine to generate high-energy X-rays to treat your cancer.

Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3-D CRT) combines multiple radiation treatment fields to deliver precise doses of radiation to the cancer. This improved technique helps keep radiation away from nearby healthy tissue.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, is a specialized form of 3-D CRT that allows the radiation beams to be further shaped to focus on the tumor. IMRT is still being studied for bladder cancer.