Standardized cranberry capsules for radiation cystitis in prostate cancer patients in New Zealand: a randomized double blinded, placebo controlled pilot study



Acute radiation cystitis, inflammation of the bladder, is a common side effect in men receiving external beam radiation for prostate cancer. Although several treatments provide symptomatic relief, there is no effective treatment to prevent or treat radiation cystitis. Cranberry products have been associated with urinary tract health. This study aimed to determine the effect of highly standardized cranberry capsules (containing 72 mg proanthocyanidins [PACS]) compared with that of placebo capsules on the incidence and severity of radiation cystitis.


Forty-one men with prostate cancer participated in a double blinded randomized placebo controlled study. Men took one capsule a day at breakfast during treatment and for 2 weeks after treatment completion. Severity of urinary symptoms and the bother these caused were measured using the individual items of the urinary domain of the Modified Expanded Prostate Index Composite (EPIC).


The incidence of cystitis was lower in men taking cranberry capsules (65 %) compared with those that took placebo capsules (90 %) (p = 0.058); severe cystitis was seen in 30 % of men in the cranberry arm and 45 % in the placebo arm (p = 0.30). Overall, the incidence of pain/burning was significantly lower in the cranberry cohort (p = 0.045). Men on the low hydration regimen who took cranberry had less pain/burning (p = 0.038), stronger urine steam (p = 0.030) and used significantly fewer pads/liners (p = 0.042), which was significantly different from those on the high hydration regimen (p = 0.028).


Men receiving radiation therapy for prostate cancer may benefit from using cranberry capsules, particularly those on low hydration regimens or with baseline urinary symptoms.

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This research was funded by grants from the University of Otago and the Health Otago Charitable Trust and by the Southern Blood and Cancer centre. Cranberry and placebo capsules were provided free of charge by Naturo Pharm LTD.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest. Although Naturo Pharm LTD provided the capsules, the firm had no input into study design, execution, analysis or publication of this research.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Patries M. Herst.

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Hamilton, K., Bennett, N.C., Purdie, G. et al. Standardized cranberry capsules for radiation cystitis in prostate cancer patients in New Zealand: a randomized double blinded, placebo controlled pilot study. Support Care Cancer 23, 95–102 (2015).

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  • Cranberry capsules
  • Double blinded
  • Placebo capsules
  • Radiation cystitis
  • Randomized