Help- Advice - Information


Radiation cystitis is one of the most common side effects from radiotherapy (radiation therapy) treatment to pelvis areas, in both males and females. If you are at risk of developing this, your doctor will ask you to provide regular MSU (Mid-Stream Urine) samples, throughout your treatment, so this can be picked up at an early stage. You must drink plenty of water during your course of radiotherapy treatment to keep your body hydrated, and to flush out any toxins.

For most people, cystitis is caused by the E Coli bacterium, which is naturally found in our digestive tracts but causes problems if it gets into our urinary tracts. If certain types of E Coli bacteria find their way into the bladder, they can cause an infection, leading to cystitis.

Some Symptoms of Cystitis Include : -

A mild fever, increased frequency of passing water, feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen region, burning or pain on passing of water, cloudy urine, blood in the urine (hematuria) or strong smelling urine.


The most common treatment for severe cystitis is a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics are required if you have been medically diagnosed with a bladder infection. Do not try to self-treat medically diagnosed cystitis, as an un-treated infection can cause you permanent damage. An effective and widely recommended preventative measure, is to have a daily intake of cranberry or blueberry extract, during your course of treatment, and for a few weeks after your radiotherapy has finished.


Cranberries contain Proanthocyanidins (PACS) which are chemicals (tannins) that have been found to prevent E Coli bacteria cells from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract. A study, in the Journal of Medicinal Food, showed that the longer the E Coli bacteria were exposed to cranberry products, the less they were able to stick to the urinary tract lining.

Cranberries also contain the antioxidants Flavonoids and Phenols, which have many health benefits, as well as a high vitamin c content. Cranberry juice is also a source of calcium, which is a requirement for strong bones and teeth.

medical experts would recommend that adult patients drink 1-2 glasses of juice daily, with only ½ - 1 glass a day for children. This is because an overdose of cranberry juice can cause diarrhoea and bloating. The cranberry juice, shown on the link to the left, comes especially recommended, as it is 100% organic, and the whole of the cranberry fruit is used in production which helps to maintain all the active plant ingredients. It is also unsweetened, so has no added sugar.

For those patients that do not like the taste of the actual cranberry fruit juice, concentrated
cranberry supplements in powder, tablet and capsule form are available, and studies have shown them to be just as effective, as the juice. The capsules shown in the link to the left by Seven Seas, are high strength, with each capsule containing the equivalent of 5000mg of fresh dried cranberries. If ordered using this link, home delivery is free of charge anywhere in the UK.


Blueberries, like cranberries also contain many types of tannin, including Proanthocyanidins (PACS), so help prevent E Coli sticking to the lining of the urinary tract in a similar way. The blueberry fruits skin contains pigments which release the PACS. If the E Coli bacteria are unable to adhere to the urinary tract lining they are flushed out by the body, and expelled in the urine.

Blueberries are also high in
antioxidants, and an excellent source of nutrition.

You could choose to incorporate fresh blueberries into your daily diet, but they are often unavailable, inconvenient or expensive to buy. Drinking
blueberry juice can be an easier alternative, or taking a daily concentrated dose of blueberry extract in powder, tablet or capsule form to supplement your diet.

Fresh blueberries and blueberry products tend to be very expensive. If you have the space we recommend growing your own! They grow very well in the
British climate and if they have a semi-sunny position they do extremely well. One blueberry plant can pay for itself with fresh fruit within the first year. If you want to continue to get bumper crops, it is best to grow two different varieties, as they will cross pollinate and meaning get more fruit!



Rarely, patients who have received a course of radiotherapy treatment to the pelvic region will be left with the long term side effect Chronic Radiation Cystitis (CRC). Normal treatment options of fluids and antibiotics do not seem to be totally successful in the management of this symptom.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment for chronic radiation cystitis (CRC) is one that is gaining in popularity especially in the USA. CRC is partly caused by damage done, to the urinary tracts lining cells, leading to a decrease in vascularity (blood supply) and oxygenation (oxygen supply) to the pelvic tissues. The aim of Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment is to improve the oxygen content of these cells and bring on the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), hopefully speeding up the patients recovery process.

You can ask your doctor if this treatment is suitable for your long term chronic radiation cystitis.

Reviewed: March 2015