The London Clinic, 120 Harley Street, London, W1G 7JW


Chemotherapy is often recommended as part of treatment for bladder cancer. Although the treatment can be given in several different ways, one of the most common options is intravesical chemotherapy. This means that the chemotherapy drugs will be given into your bladder through a catheter.

chemotherapy for bladder cancer

The Treatment

Chemotherapy uses special drugs that can kill cancer cells. The drugs target cells that are dividing quickly, so they will be most effective on cancer. Some of your healthy cells may also be affected which can cause side effects. However, the risk is low with this form of chemotherapy as the drugs will be restricted to your bladder. You might experience some bladder irritation, which could cause discomfort when urinating or make you need to urinate more often for a while.

When you have intravesical chemotherapy for bladder cancer, the drugs will be administered through a catheter. The catheter is a small, flexible tube that will be passed onto your bladder through the urethra. After the drugs have been given, the catheter is removed. You will then need to try to avoid urinating for a while in order to ensure the drug has time to take effect. The drug may be drained out through a catheter or simply passed in your urine.

When is Chemotherapy Recommended?

Intravesical chemotherapy is often given alongside other types of treatment for bladder cancer. The chemotherapy can enhance the effects of the other treatments in order to increase the chances of success. For example, you might have a single dose of chemotherapy after a trans-urethral resection of the bladder tumour in order to eliminate any remaining cancer cells. In other cases, you might need to have a series of treatments with chemotherapy over several weeks. The most effective treatment for bladder cancer uses all of the tools that are available to eliminate the tumour and prevent it from returning.