Understanding Bladder Cancer: Intravesical Therapy

Intravesical treatment puts a drug right into your bladder. The drug is given this way rather than by mouth or vein. When a drug is put directly into your bladder, it mostly affects the cells lining the bladder. It has little or no effect on other cells. Intravesical therapy is only used for bladder cancers that are caught early.

There are several difference types of intravesical therapy:

Intravesical immunotherapy: This is the most common type of intravesical therapy. It works by making your body’s natural defenses (immune system) attack the cancer.

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin therapy (BCG): This type of immunotherapy is used to treat low-stage bladder cancer. BCG is put right into your bladder through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. Your body's immune system cells are then drawn to the bladder. They attack the cancer. BCG is usually given once a week for 6 weeks.

BCG treatment can cause side effects like:

  • Mild fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Burning in the bladder

Interferons: Your body naturally makes these substances to start your immune system. Interferon drugs are another form of intravesical treatment. The interferons can cause side effects like:

  • Muscle aches
  • Bone pain
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you experience these side effects, your doctor can give you medications to relieve them.

Intravesical chemotherapy: In this treatment, anti-cancer drugs are put into your bladder. This is done through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. Drugs given this way reach cancer cells in your bladder lining without affecting cells elsewhere. The main side effects of this type of intravesical therapy are irritation and burning in the bladder.

Back to “Understanding Bladder Cancer: An Introduction”

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