Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation all cause side effects. It helps to learn what to expect before you start treatment. Talk with your health care providers about how to manage side effects first. Some things to think about:
- If part of the bladder is removed, it holds less urine. Some people find they will have to go to the bathroom more often.
- Radiation to the pelvis can harm nerves to the bladder and prostate. This may lead to incontinence (leaking). The sphincter (a muscle that keeps urine in the bladder) may become weak.
- If the prostate is removed, boys may have incontinence (leaking) and impotence (inability to have an erection). A surgeon with experience can limit these problems. Long-term after-care can help.
- If part of the vagina is removed, some girls may lose sexual sensation. Not all will.
- If retroperitoneal lymph nodes are removed, a boy may not ejaculate and have fertility problems. A surgeon with experience can help. Some teens opt to “bank” sperm before surgery. This decision should be carefully discussed with the family.
In any case, after-care is important. A second-look operation is helpful to check for any remaining problems. Patients will need regular CT scans and biopsies over time.
The goal of treatment and after-care is to learn if the entire cancer is gone.