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Bladder Cancer - Medications

Medicines may be used to control the growth of bladder cancer cells and to relieve symptoms. These medicines may be taken by mouth, injected into a vein (intravenous, or IV), or delivered directly into the bladder using a catheter.

  • ChemotherapyChemotherapy uses medicines to destroy cancer cells.
  • ImmunotherapyImmunotherapy, also called biological therapy, uses medicines that cause your body's immune system to attack cancer cells in your bladder. It is most often used for early-stage bladder cancer. It may also be used after a transurethral resection (TUR) to help keep cancer from coming back.

Medicine choices

Chemotherapy medicines

  • Gemcitabine and cisplatin
  • MVAC, a combination of methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin, and cisplatin
  • Mitomycin, which may be used to help keep cancer from coming back

Side effects of chemotherapy may include:

  • Loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Hair loss.
  • Mouth sores.
  • An increased risk of infection.
  • Skin peeling or a rash from mitomycin.

Some people may need medicines to control nausea and vomiting.

Immunotherapy medicines

Side effects of immunotherapy vary depending on the medicine. Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is a type of bacteria related to the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB). BCG is used in TB vaccines. Also, BCG is placed into the bladder to treat bladder cancer. With BCG, the side effects may include:

  • Fever.
  • Joint pain.
  • Inflammation of the prostate.
  • Disseminated tuberculosis.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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