How Systemic Chemotherapy Helps Treat Bladder Cancer

Posted on: 23 September 2019

Sadly, many people discover that they have bladder cancer when it is in its advanced stages. Doctors use various tactics to diagnose its presence in the body including cystoscopy, biopsy, imaging tests and urine cytology. Once the presence of cancer has been confirmed, the doctors decide on an appropriate course of treatment. The recommended treatment depends on the stage of the cancer and whether it has metastasised to other parts of the body. CT scans and MRI's are commonly used to check if the cancer has spread.

One of the most common therapies offered to advanced-stage bladder cancer patients is systemic chemotherapy. Here is how this bladder cancer treatment helps. 

How Systemic Chemo Works

The treatment is given as a pill that you swallow or an injection. The drug travels throughout the body after the injection, killing all present cancer cells in the bloodstream and all parts of the body. Systemic chemotherapy is, therefore, not used on any particular part of the body, but is used as a holistic cancer treatment.

Systemic Chemo and Surgery

Most of the times, bladder cancer is treated through surgery. Systemic chemotherapy could be administered before the surgery to shrink the tumour and make it easier to exercise. When the chemo is administered before the surgery, it is referred to as neoadjuvant surgery. After the tumour has shrunk to a manageable size, it is removed, and the condition of the patient was monitored.

Chemotherapy after Surgery

Sometimes, after the initial surgery that removes tumours from the main site of the cancer, doctors may recommend additional chemotherapy. This treatment is meant to kill any cancer cells which may have remained after the surgery. It can also kill any cancer cells which may have spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body. When chemotherapy is administered after the main surgery, it is referred to as adjuvant chemotherapy. 

Recovery After Chemotherapy Bladder Treatment

Chemotherapy drugs are very strong, and often have adverse effects on the body. Chemo is also known to weaken the immune system, which is why patients tend to develop opportunistic infections during cancer treatment. To recover fully after chemo administration, you should rest a lot, eat a balanced diet, and use the recommended pain medication to manage the pain.

If you're at risk for bladder cancer, talk to your doctor about regular screenings. Regular testing ensures that bladder cancer is caught on time, which increases your chances of making a full recovery.