Did you have chemotherapy to treat bladder cancer? Please describe what it was like.
Share your story with others:
MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.
What is chemotherapy for bladder cancer?
Patients who are diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer (M stage - M1; cancer which has spread to other parts of the body) are usually
treated with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may also be used in cases of "locally
advanced" bladder cancer (T stage - T3 and above and/or N stage - N1 and above)
in an attempt to decrease the chances of the cancer coming back after radical
cystectomy. This is known as "adjuvant chemotherapy." Another strategy entails
administering "neoadjuvant chemotherapy" by giving these medications before
radical cystectomy in an attempt to improve the results of surgery and decrease
the size of the tumor.
It has been shown that chemotherapy has the potential to control metastatic
bladder cancer and increase the chances of cure when used in a neoadjuvant or
adjuvant setting along with surgery. However, chemotherapy has its own set of
side effects and may not be tolerated by all individuals.
The time-honored chemotherapy regimen for bladder cancer is called the MVAC.
It is a combination of four medications given in cyclical form.
M: Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall)
A: Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
C: Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ)
Oncologists currently prescribe MVAC in a "dose dense" fashion. This means
the patient takes the drugs more frequently than was previously the accepted
treatment schedule, as well as taking growth factors to help the blood counts to
recover faster from the effects of the chemotherapy drugs.The older schedule for
MVAX therapy is no longer recommended according to the National Comprehensive
Some patients with heart disease may not be in a condition to receive
Adriamycin and may receive CMV instead (CMV = MVAC - Adriamycin)
An alternative regimen is a combination of gemcitabine (Gemzar) and
cisplatin. This is increasingly being used nowadays since some studies have
shown that it is equally effective as the MVAC regime with fewer side effects.
Cisplatin, which is the main medication in all these regimens, cannot be
given to patients who have an abnormal kidney function. In this case, it may be
substituted by carboplatin (Paraplatin), which, however, is not as effective as
cisplatin-based chemotherapy. Carboplatin-containing regimens are not
recommended in place of those containing cisplastin to render the drug cocktail