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Bladder Cancer Chemotherapy

Side Effects of Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer

The side effects of bladder cancer chemotherapy will depend on the drugs, the doses that the patient receives, and how the drugs are given. In addition, as with other types of bladder cancer treatment, side effects will vary from patient to patient.
Anticancer drugs that are placed in the bladder will cause:
  • Irritation
  • Discomfort or bleeding that lasts for a few days after treatment
  • A rash if the drugs come into contact with the skin or genitals.
Systemic bladder cancer chemotherapy affects cancer cells and other cells that divide rapidly, which include blood cells, cells in hair roots, and cells that line the digestive tract.
  • Blood cells: These cells fight infection, help your blood to clot, and carry oxygen to all parts of the body. When drugs affect the blood cells, patients are more likely to get infections, bruise or bleed easily, and feel very weak and tired.
  • Cells in hair roots: Chemotherapy can cause patients to lose their hair. Although the hair will grow back, it may be somewhat different in color and texture.
  • Cells that line the digestive tract: Chemotherapy can cause a poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or mouth and lip sores.
Certain chemotherapy drugs that are used to treat bladder cancer may also cause kidney damage. In order to protect the kidneys, patients will need a lot of fluid. The nurse may give the patient fluids by vein before and after treatment, and the patient may need to drink a lot of fluids during chemotherapy. Certain anticancer drugs can also cause tingling in the fingers, ringing in the ears, or hearing loss. These problems may go away after treatment ends.
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