Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body. It may be used:

  • Before surgery —to shrink the tumor
  • After surgery—to kill any cancer cells that are left behind
  • With radiation therapy —if surgery can't be done
  • To help ease symptoms caused by the tumor

Chemotherapy Drugs and Delivery

There are many kinds of chemotherapy drugs. The drugs and how they are used will depend on the type of cancer. Bladder cancer may be treated with:

  • Cisplatin
  • Fluorouracil (5-FU)
  • Mitomycin
  • Doxorubicin
  • Gemcitabine
  • Methotrexate
  • Vinblastine
  • Carboplatin
  • Paclitaxel
  • Docetaxel

Chemotherapy is most often given through an IV. It's done in cycles over a set period.

A liquid agent may also be placed right into the bladder. The agent will alert the immune system to attack the cancer.

Side Effects and Management

Chemotherapy causes a range of health problems. The most common are:

  • Blood in the urine
  • An irritated bladder, which may cause an increase in:
    • Frequency
    • Urgency
    • Pain or burning when passing urine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling tired because of anemia

There are many ways to manage these problems. Medicines and lifestyle changes are the most common. In some cases, the cycles may be changed to lower the chances of serious problems. Talk to your healthcare team as soon as these appear so they can be better controlled.

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