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Neoadjuvant chemotherapy for bladder cancer may be recommended to help destroy cancer cells, shrink tumors and allow a surgeon to remove cancerous growths more easily. It may also reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. A “neoadjuvant” therapy is one that is administered before the main form of treatment to help increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. 

When is neoadjuvant chemotherapy appropriate with bladder cancer surgery?

Bladder cancer is a complex disease that requires an individualized treatment plan, and not everyone is a candidate for chemotherapy. In general, though, chemotherapy may be administered prior to bladder cancer surgery if the cancer is rapidly spreading or has grown into the bladder wall’s connective tissue. Chemotherapy may also be given following surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy) to help destroy any cancer cells that remain.

What to expect during neoadjuvant chemotherapy

Chemotherapy works by delivering cancer-fighting drugs into the bloodstream through an IV or oral pill, or directly to the bladder through a catheter (intravesical therapy). The details of neoadjuvant chemotherapy treatment can vary based on the patient’s specific stage of bladder cancer and his or her overall health and other factors. For example, there are several different chemotherapy drugs that could be used to help shrink tumors, and more than one cycle of chemotherapy may be recommended prior to surgery.

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Urologic Oncology Program includes a multispecialty team of physicians who focus exclusively on treating bladder cancer and work hand in hand to create individualized treatment plans for each patient. Our team also leads ambitious research initiatives to help enhance chemotherapy response rates, reduce side effects and improve outcomes and quality of life.

To consult with a Moffitt oncologist about your bladder cancer treatment options, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. We welcome patients with or without referrals.