Possible side effects of chemotherapy

You may have some side effects after your treatment. These include:

  • needing to pass urine often
  • pain or stinging when you pass urine
  • blood in the urine.

Most side effects are caused by inflammation in the bladder lining (cystitis). These can take up to a week to improve.

Drinking lots of fluid will ease the irritation. Try to drink about two to three litres (three and a half to five pints) each day. Taking mild painkillers will also help. We have more information about looking after your bladder during and after treatment.

Some people get a red rash on their hands or genital area. Some people may get a rash on the rest of their body. If this happens, let your nurse or doctor know straight away.

Contact your doctor straight away if:

  • the side effects don’t improve after a day or two
  • you have a raised temperature
  • your urine is smelly or cloudy.

These symptoms may mean you have a urine infection.

Rarely, a person may find it difficult to pass urine or have severe tummy pain. If you’re a man, you may have pain around your penis. Call your doctor or specialist nurse straight away if you have any of these symptoms.

Sex after treatment

Men should use a condom during sex for the first 48 hours after chemotherapy. If you’re a woman having treatment, your partner should use a condom. This protects your partner from any of the drug that may be present in semen or vaginal fluid.

Your doctor will tell you not to become pregnant or father a child while having chemotherapy to treat bladder cancer. This is because the drugs may harm a developing baby. You should use effective contraception during your treatment. Talk to your doctor or specialist nurse about this.