Radiotherapy to the pelvis for cancer can damage the bladder in some, leading to late radiation cystitis

This can cause urinary problems including pain, blood in the urine and reduced bladder capacity. A cycle of bleeding, infection and occasionally life-threatening complications can occur. Options include treating infections, blood transfusion, catheterisation, drugs inserted into the bladder, and surgery. This review found no evidence from trials to determine the effects of non-surgical treatments for late radiation cystitis, although some drugs inserted into the bladder may be advantageous.

Authors' conclusions: 

Late radiation cystitis is a relatively uncommon treatment complication and there are obvious difficulties in identifying sufficient patients to participate in a RCT. The number of published reports is a reflection of the degree of medical interest that exists in providing therapeutic solutions for late radiation cystitis. However, in spite of the two studies of level IIA evidence and the solitary RCT it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions.

Read the full abstract...

Chronic radiation cystitis occurs a minimum of three months after completion of pelvic radiotherapy and represents a range of clinical symptoms for which there is as yet no recommended standard management.


The aim of this review was to identify the various non-surgical treatment options for the management of late chronic radiation cystitis and evaluate the evidence.

Search strategy: 

Synonyms for radiation therapy and for the spectrum of radiation toxicity to the bladder in both text and MeSH terms were combined and applied to a range of databases - Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Register 2001; MEDLINE 1966 to 2001; EMBASE 1980 to 2001; CANCERCD 1980 to 2001; Science Citation Index 1991 to 2001; CINAHL 1982 to 2001,and sources of grey literature. We also hand searched textbooks and contacted experts in the field. In the current update the search was updated to April 2007.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), studies of interventions for the non-surgical management of all grades of late radiation cystitis.

Data collection and analysis: 

Out of 85 relevant studies, there was one RCT that met the inclusion criteria and a prospective series (phase II study), both of these used the same intervention. In addition, there were three prospective case series and two non-RCTs which assessed different interventions and were not comparable.

Main results: 

Sixty-five reports met the stated inclusion criteria. The majority were predominantly retrospective case series with the exception of one RCT which used an agent called WF 10 (Veerasaran 2004), there were also two unrandomised and unblinded studies with a control group for comparison of effect, (Micic 1988), (intravesical placental extract) and (Milani 1988), (flavoxate). There is also a phase II series using WF 10 therapy.