Quality of Life
The incidence and severity of lower urinary tract dysfunction after radiation has been documented in numerous studies, underscoring the direct physical sequelae of therapy. However, patient-centered measures to document quality of life are equally important and reflect the true impact of radiation,
Quality-of-life data from patients treated for various pelvic malignancies have shown relatively few long-term effects of radiation on bladder function, with low incidence of distressful symptoms. One study from Massachusetts General Hospital followed long-term survivors with invasive bladder cancer who were treated with TURB, chemotherapy, and bladder radiation to 64 to 65 Gy.77 Patients underwent urodynamic testing and a quality-of-life questionnaire was completed at a median follow-up time of 6.3 years. Urodynamic studies demonstrated normal bladder parameters in 75% of patients. Twenty-two percent of patients had reduced bladder compliance, which is a recognized late complication of radiation; of this group, only a third reported distress due to symptoms. Two out of twelve women had bladder hypersensitivity, involuntary detrusor contractions, and incontinence. Overall, 19% of patients had issues with continence, with 11% requiring pads (all female). However, only half of the patients with continence problems described their symptoms as distressful. Less common were issues with flow (5%) and urgency (16%). This low level of symptom-induced distress parallels results of questionnaires from Italian and Swedish studies, where >74% of patients report good urinary function after bladder radiation.78,79–80
Another study focused on patients ...
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