If the cancer has not spread outside the bladder or it is locally advanced, you usually have chemotherapy along with other treatments. Chemotherapy can be given:
- before surgery or radiotherapy, to shrink the cancer and reduce the risk of it coming back. This is called neo-adjuvant chemotherapy.
- with radiotherapy, to make treatment work better. This is called chemoradiation.
- after surgery, if there is a high risk of the cancer coming back (adjuvant chemotherapy).
If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, you may have chemotherapy as your main treatment. Chemotherapy may help to shrink and control the cancer and improve your symptoms. It may help you live for longer.
You may have a combination of chemotherapy drugs or one drug on its own.
Most people have a combination of drugs. These are given into a vein (intravenous). Some commonly used combinations are:
- gemcitabine and cisplatin (GemCis)
- methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin and cisplatin (MVAC)
- mitomycin and fluorouracil (5-FU) – usually given at the same time as radiotherapy (chemoradiation)
- gemcitabine – usually given at the same time as radiotherapy (called chemoradiation)
- paclitaxel and carboplatin
- gemcitabine and carboplatin (GemCarbo).
Other chemotherapy drugs may also be used, or you may have one of these drugs on its own.