Cancer Home > Bladder Cancer Chemotherapy

Your healthcare provider may recommend chemotherapy as a treatment option for bladder cancer. One drug or a combination of drugs may be used to kill the cancer cells. Also, chemotherapy can be given on its own or combined with surgery, radiation therapy, or both. Certain chemotherapy drugs may cause kidney damage; a lot of fluid is required during treatment to protect the kidneys.

An Overview of Bladder Cancer Chemotherapy

Bladder cancer chemotherapy uses drugs to kill bladder cancer cells. This type of chemotherapy may entail one drug or a combination of drugs. For patients with superficial bladder cancer, the doctor may use intravesical chemotherapy after removing the cancer with transurethral resection (TUR).
(Click Bladder Cancer Surgery for more information about transurethral resection.)
Intravesical chemotherapy is local therapy, which means that it only affects the treated area. In this type of chemotherapy, the doctor will insert a tube (catheter) through the urethra and put liquid drugs into the bladder through the catheter. The drugs will remain in the bladder for several hours and will mainly affect the cells in the bladder. In most cases, the patient will have this treatment once a week for several weeks, or bladder cancer chemotherapy may continue once or several times a month for up to a year.
If the cancer has deeply invaded the bladder or spread to lymph nodes or other organs, the doctor may administer drugs through a vein. This treatment is called intravenous bladder cancer chemotherapy. Intravenous chemotherapy is systemic therapy, which means that the drugs flow through the bloodstream to nearly every part of the body. The chemotherapy drugs for bladder cancer are usually given in cycles so that a recovery period follows every treatment period.
The patient may receive chemotherapy on its own or combined with surgery, radiation therapy, or both. In most cases, chemotherapy is an outpatient treatment given at the hospital, clinic, or at the doctor's office. However, depending on which drugs are given and the patient's general health, the patient may need to stay in the hospital for a short period of time.
(Click Bladder Cancer Treatment for more information about other treatment options for bladder cancer.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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