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Systemic chemotherapy


Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer (includes T2 tumors) , Locally Advanced (includes T3 tumors) , Metastatic Bladder Cancer (includes T4 tumors)

Treatment Category:



Systemic chemotherapy

Suitable for:
  • Suitable for most people to treat muscle-invasive bladder cancer, including when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
  • Can be given before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) to shrink the tumor so it’s easier to remove or after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy) to kill any remaining cancer cells
  • Also suitable as an alternative treatment if surgery cannot be done because of serious health problems
How it works:

Kills cancer cells anywhere in the body, to stop these growing and dividing

How it is typically used:
  • Used before surgery to help to shrink the tumor so it’s easier to remove, and help lower the chances of the cancer coming back after surgery
  • Used after surgery, or radiation therapy, to kill any remaining cancer cells and lower the risk of the cancer coming back
  • Given as a treatment for bladder cancer that has spread to other parts of the body
How it is administered:
  • Given as a pill
  • Injected into a vein
  • Injected into a muscle
Side effects:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Fatigue
Is this given with other treatments?
  • Combined-modality therapy (CMT): Chemotherapy is often given with radiation therapy to make the radiation therapy more effective
  • Chemotherapy –> immune checkpoint inhibitor maintenance treatment: For advanced bladder cancer, a treatment regimen of chemotherapy followed by an immune checkpoint inhibitor may be used as maintenance therapy, to maintain the benefits of chemotherapy and slow the progression of the cancer
  • Chemotherapy + monoclonal antibody: In some cases, chemotherapy can also be given with a monoclonal antibody to help the chemotherapy to find and kill the bladder cancer cells

Disclaimer: Information and services provided by the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) are for informational purposes only. The information and services are not intended to be substitutes for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are ill, or suspect that you are ill, seek professional medical attention immediately! BCAN does not recommend or endorse any specific physicians, treatments, procedures or products even though they may be mentioned on this site.

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