Chemotherapy and New Treatments for Bladder Cancer
NYU Langone doctors may use chemotherapy to treat people who have bladder cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy refers to drugs that are used to destroy cancer cells throughout the body.
One of the most common drugs used to treat bladder cancer is cisplatin. It is often used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs.
Most of the drugs used to treat bladder cancer are given through a vein as an intravenous (IV) infusion. Treatment usually lasts for a few hours each day for several days over the course of a week. This cycle is repeated every three or four weeks, which gives the body time to recover between treatments. Total treatment time may be several months.
Doctors at NYU Langone may give chemotherapy before surgery. This is known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy. It can help shrink tumors, making surgery easier and safer to perform.
Our doctors may also prescribe chemotherapy after surgery if cancer has invaded the bladder wall or has spread to surrounding lymph nodes and other organs. Lymph nodes are small immune system glands that trap viruses and bacteria. Cancer often spreads to the lymph nodes first.
Chemotherapy may be the only treatment given to people who have advanced bladder cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Doctors may provide a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to people who can’t have surgery because of poor health.
Side effects may include fatigue, infection, nausea, and vomiting. To help reduce side effects, our doctors can adjust the chemotherapy dose, prescribe medications to help manage the side effects, and refer you to support services and integrative therapies.
Clinical Trials of New Treatments
NYU Langone researchers are national leaders in investigating the use of new chemotherapy drugs, as well as targeted drugs, which are designed to treat cancer cells while avoiding healthy tissue, and immunotherapy drugs, which are designed to stimulate your body’s immune system to fight cancer.
These treatments help prevent bladder cancer from progressing or returning and may be more effective while also having fewer side effects. You and your doctor can discuss whether a clinical trial might be right for you.