Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer
- How Chemotherapy Is Administered
Chemotherapy drugs are generally administered in three ways:
- By mouth in the form of a pill you swallow
- By injection
- Locally (directly to the tumor site)
Injection methods include:
- Intra-arterial (IA): into an artery
- Intramuscular (IM): into a muscle
- Intravenous (IV): into a vein
- Subcutaneous (SubQ): into the skin
Local/direct methods include:
- Intracavitary: in the cavity (or space) where your tumor had been prior to surgery
- Interstitial: into body tissue
- Intraperitoneal: into your abdomen or peritoneal cavity (intestines, liver, stomach, ovaries)
- Intrathecal: into the space between the meninges
- Intratumoral: into the tumor
- Intraventicular: into a ventricle
- Convection-enhanced delivery: into your tumor using gravity or controlled flow
Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment where high-powered medications are used to kill cancer cells. It’s a systemic approach to cancer treatment, where drugs are delivered through your bloodstream, targeting cancer cells throughout your body.
Scott & White’s Approach
Scott & White’s mission to provide personalized, comprehensive care is the foundation for our chemotherapy program. Our approach at Scott & White is in individualizing therapy.
Our medical oncologists take meticulous care to determine which chemotherapy drug or drugs are best for you. Several factors impact their decision, including the type, location and stage of your specific tumor and your overall medical condition.
How Chemotherapy Is Used to Treat Cancer
Your physician team may recommend chemotherapy in addition to or instead of other treatments for your bladder cancer.
Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment where drugs are injected, given orally or through an IV, to keep your cancer from spreading. Often chemotherapy drugs are used in combination to attack cancer cells. It’s usually given in cycles over several months.
Chemotherapy is used in some cases:
- To shrink the size of your tumor before surgery or radiation therapy; this kind of chemotherapy is called neoadjuvant therapy
- To kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery or radiation therapy; this kind of chemotherapy is called adjuvant chemotherapy
- To treat metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread)
- To treat recurrent cancer (cancer that has returned)
- As a palliative — to relieve the symptoms caused by cancer, such as bone pain
There are a wide variety of chemotherapy drugs available to treat cancer. At Scott & White, we use all the standard chemotherapies.
At Scott & White, we offer intravesical therapy for the treatment of bladder cancer. Intravesical therapy is a form of local chemotherapy, where chemotherapy drugs are inserted into your bladder through a thin tube (catheter).
At Scott & White, we use Mitomycin-C, BCG and gemcitabine. These drugs are effective only for tumors on the lining of the bladder.
Intravesical therapy is a good choice for patients with early-stage bladder cancer. Because the drugs attack tumors only on the lining of the bladder and don’t move beyond the bladder lining into the bloodstream, this form of chemotherapy has fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapies.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Each chemotherapy drug is different and each person’s reaction to it can vary. At Scott & White, your medical oncologist will see you through treatment and help you manage any side effects.
Here are some common side effects of chemotherapy drugs for cancer of the bladder:
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bruising or bleeding
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Lowered resistance to infection
For more information about possible side effects, talk to your medical oncologist.