Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer by killing the tumor cells. It normally follows protocols of specific cycles or regimens. Moreover, after each period of treatment there is a period of rest that allows the body time to recover. During the treatment of bladder cancer, chemotherapy administration may happen in the following ways:

Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer

  • Intravesical chemotherapy

Here the chemo drug is put right into the bladder. This type of chemo is used for bladder cancer that is only in the lining of the bladder.

  • Systemic chemotherapy

Here, the administration of chemotherapy drugs happens in pills or injected into the vein (IV) or muscle (IM). In systemic chemotherapy, the drugs enter the bloodstream and are course throughout the body. This is an effective method as the drugs can access cancer cells anywhere in the body. Generally, there are two modes of administration:

a. Neoadjuvant therapy: Precedes surgery to shrink the tumor so that it is easier to remove and help lower the chances of cancer relapse.
b. Adjuvant therapy: Generally, follows surgery and sometimes follows radiation therapy. The goal of adjuvant therapy is to kill any cancer that may remain after other treatments. Besides, this lowers that chance of cancer recurrence.

Systemic chemotherapy helps radiation work better. Moreover, it is the primary treatment treatment of for metastatic bladder cancers.

Chemotherapy drugs in the treatment of bladder cancer

Chemotherapy can be solitary or in combination with other treatment modalities depending on the general health of the patient.

Chemo in combination with radiation commonly includes drugs such as:

  • Cisplatin
  • Cisplatin plus fluorouracil (5-FU)
  • Mitomycin with 5-FU

Furthermore, most common combinations of chemo without radiation include:

  • Gemcitabine and cisplatin
  • Dose-dense methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin (Adriamycin), and cisplatin (DDMVAC)
  • Cisplatin, methotrexate, and vinblastine (CMV)
  • Gemcitabine and paclitaxel

Furthermore, read about the side-effects of chemotherapy here.

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