Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer

Customized chemotherapy treatments for bladder cancer.

Chemotherapy may be part of your bladder cancer treatment plan if your cancer has spread (metastasized), or there’s a higher risk that it will spread to your lymph nodes or other areas of your body. Our medical oncologists specialize in bladder cancer and will work closely with you to customize the most appropriate treatment for your diagnosis and care needs.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to damage or destroy cancer cells. We inject or infuse a combination of medications into the bloodstream to attack cancer cells in the bladder or, if the cancer has spread, in other areas of the body.

Chemotherapy may be used alongside treatments such as bladder cancer surgery or radiation therapy.

Our team may recommend a treatment plan that includes a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to try to save your bladder. This is only an option for select patients based on certain factors. Research has shown that up to 60 percent of patients will later require surgical removal of the bladder if the cancer returns. You might be a good candidate for radiation therapy and chemotherapy if:

  • You are too ill to have surgery
  • You can tolerate chemotherapy
  • Your bladder cancer is not at an advanced stage
Newly diagnosed? Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167 or request an appointment online.

What types of chemotherapy are used for bladder cancer?

Our medical oncologists track the latest in bladder cancer chemotherapy treatments, so you get the most advanced therapy possible. Some of the most common types of chemotherapy for bladder cancer include:

  • Adjuvant chemotherapy: Given after bladder cancer surgery to reduce the risk of cancer returning. This chemotherapy is used to kill any remaining cancer cells that may have spread or were not seen during surgery.
  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy for invasive bladder cancer: Takes place before bladder cancer surgery to shrink large tumors, so less extensive surgery will be required. This type of chemotherapy can decrease the risk of the cancer returning. Also, it can kill cancer cells that are unseen because they have moved away from the original tumor site.
  • Intravesical chemotherapy for non-invasive (superficial) bladder cancer: Delivers a drug directly into the bladder through a catheter placed in the urethra (the duct through which urine leaves the body). This type of chemotherapy is typically used after transurethral resection (TUR) or to lower the chance that the cancer will return.

Chemotherapy for metastatic bladder cancer

Our team often recommends a combination of treatments for bladder cancer that has spread (metastasized). Options may include chemotherapy and immunotherapy as well as approaches that are being tested in clinical trials to shrink tumors and relieve symptoms while maintaining quality of life.

Chemotherapy and You

A resource to help inform and organize you as you go through chemotherapy treatment for your cancer.

Chemotherapy and You NIH
Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167.


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