Clinical trials for non-invasive bladder cancer

Cancer research trials, also called clinical trials, try to find new and better cancer treatments.

Some newer treatments for non-invasive bladder cancer are being tested. If your urologist thinks you may benefit from taking part in a clinical trial, they will refer you to the hospital doing the trial.

One trial is testing the use of heated intravesical chemotherapy. This combines chemotherapy with heat. Either a fine probe is used to heat the bladder lining while chemotherapy is given into the bladder. Or the chemotherapy is heated before it goes into the bladder.

Another trial is looking at electromotive intravesical chemotherapy. This involves giving the chemotherapy into the bladder as an electrical current is passed through the bladder. This helps the cells absorb more of the chemotherapy. Sometimes this treatment is combined with BCG treatment into the bladder.

Research – clinical trials

Cancer research trials are carried out to try to find new and better treatments for cancer. Trials that are carried out on patients are known as clinical trials. These may be carried out to:

  • test new treatments, such as new chemotherapy drugs or targeted therapies 
  • look at new combinations of existing treatments, or change the way they are given to make them more effective or reduce side effects
  • compare the effectiveness of drugs used to control symptoms
  • find out how cancer treatments work
  • find out which treatments are the most cost-effective.

Trials are the only reliable way to find out if a different type of surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiotherapy, or other treatment is better than what is already available.

Taking part in a trial

You may be asked to take part in a treatment research trial. There can be many benefits in doing this. Trials help to improve knowledge about cancer and develop new treatments. You will be carefully monitored during and after the study.

Usually, several hospitals around the country take part in these trials. It’s important to bear in mind that some treatments that look promising at first are often later found not to be as good as existing treatments or to have side effects that outweigh the benefits.

If you decide not to take part in a trial, your decision will be respected and you don’t have to give a reason. However, it can help to let the staff know your concerns so that they can give you the best advice. There will be no change in the way that you’re treated by the hospital staff, and you’ll be offered the standard treatment for your situation.

We have more information about cancer research trials (clinical trials).

Blood and tumour samples

Blood and tumour samples may be taken to help make the right diagnosis. You may be asked for your permission to use some of your samples for research into cancer. If you take part in a trial, you may also give other samples, which  may be frozen and stored for future use when new research techniques become available. Your name will be removed from the samples so you can’t be identified.

The research may be carried out at the hospital where you are treated, or at another one. This type of research takes a long time, and results may not be available for many years. The samples will be used to increase knowledge about the causes of cancer and its treatment, which will hopefully improve the outlook for future patients.

Current research

Research is looking at newer ways of treating the inside of the bladder in non-invasive bladder cancer. We have more information about searching for clinical trials and clinical trial databases.

Newer treatments

Some newer treatments are being tested for non-invasive bladder cancer. Because these are experimental, they’re usually only available in clinical trials. If your urologist thinks a clinical trial may be helpful for you, they can refer you to the hospital doing the trial.

Heated intravesical chemotherapy

This treatment combines intravesical chemotherapy with heat. A fine probe applies microwave heat to the bladder lining. At the same time, chemotherapy is given into the bladder.

Another type of this treatment uses a machine to heat the chemotherapy before it goes into the bladder. The chemotherapy is then given into the bladder through a catheter. Trials are trying to find out if using heat makes chemotherapy given into the bladder work better.

Electromotive intravesical chemotherapy

Some trials involve giving the chemotherapy drug mitomycin into the bladder with a technique called electromotive stimulation. An electrical current is passed through the bladder so that the cells absorb more of the chemotherapy drug. Your doctor or nurse may also call this electromotive drug administration.

Sometimes this treatment is combined with a course of BCG treatment into the bladder. Your doctor or nurse will explain about this.

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