Bladder Cancer – Medications

Medicines may be used to control the growth of bladder cancer cells and to relieve symptoms. Chemotherapy uses medicines to destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy uses medicine that causes your body’s immune response to attack cancer cells in your bladder.
Medication Choices

Chemotherapy may be taken by mouth (orally), injected into a vein (intravenous, or IV), or put into the bladder through a urinary catheter (intravesically). Chemotherapy can kill cancer cells both inside and outside the bladder area.
Medicines through a vein (IV)

* M-VAC is a combination of methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin, and cisplatin. Methotrexate slows or stops the growth of cancer cells in the body and is frequently used in combination with other chemotherapy medicines. Cisplatin is a heavy metal that causes cell death by interfering with the multiplication of cancer cells.
* Gemcitabine is an antitumor medication that interferes with how cells divide and stops the growth of the cancer cells. It is often combined with another drug called cisplatin for treating bladder cancer.
* Doxorubicin is an anthracycline antibiotic medicine. Epirubicin and valrubicin are also anthracycline antibiotics that may be used.
* Paclitaxel or carboplatin are antitumor medicines that slow or stop the growth of cancer cells in the body.

Medicines through a catheter into the bladder

* Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) may stimulate an immune response or inflammation in the bladder wall to destroy cancer cells within the bladder. This is known as immunotherapy.
* Mitomycin is an antitumor antibiotic that interferes with the multiplication of cancer cells. When administered directly into the bladder, mitomycin may help prevent the recurrence of bladder cancer.

What To Think About

Medicines, alone or in combination, may be delivered directly into the bladder using a catheter (intravesically).

Adjuvant chemotherapy may be used with transurethral resection (TUR) of the bladder. Chemotherapy is also used when cancer cannot be controlled with surgery.

Most chemotherapy causes some side effects. Home treatment may be all that is needed to manage your symptoms. But some people may need medicines to control nausea and vomiting. If your doctor has given you instructions or medicines to treat your symptoms, be sure to follow them. In general, healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep and exercise can help control your symptoms.

Clinical trials are research studies to look for ways to improve treatments for bladder cancer. Experts are doing studies on:

* Chemoprevention for early-stage bladder cancer. This is the use of medicines or vitamins to reduce the risk of getting cancer or having cancer come back.
* Photodynamic therapy. This uses medicine and a special light to treat the cancer.
* Chemotherapy before surgery. This is used for late-stage cancer.
* How to keep the bladder working while people get chemotherapy or radiation.

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