Malignant Bladder Cancer Prognosis - Types of Chemotherapy

By Prev Info - February 28, 2022

Bladder Cancer Effects

Bladder cancer is a very serious disease. While treatments are available, early diagnosis is essential for eliminating the disease from your body and receiving the best possible prognosis. Keeping an eye out for key signs and symptoms of bladder cancer is the best way to ensure you receive an early and accurate diagnosis.


Bladder cancer is a disease that causes tumors to grow in the bladder, in the bladder's lining or in surrounding muscles, lymph nodes or in nearby organs such as the uterus, prostate or intestines. One of the key causes of this disease is cigarette smoking. Though the tumors can often be removed, bladder cancer can lead to bladder removal, an impaired lifestyle or even death if not treated promptly.

Urgency & Frequency

The most common effects bladder cancer has on the body are urinary urgency and frequency. Urgency occurs when you feel as though you need to urinate very badly, all of a sudden. Urinary frequency, on the other hand, just means that you must urinate often, even if only a small amount is expelled from the body. These symptoms are signs of less serious conditions as well like urinary tract infections, so an accurate diagnosis from your doctor is essential.

Pain or Burning During Urination

Another sign of bladder cancer is pain or burning during urination. This effect can be caused by a variety of conditions, from STDs to a simple infection. However, only a diagnosis from your doctor can rule out bladder cancer. This pain often feels as if your bladder muscles are spasming or squeezing extra hard, trying to force urine from the body. This causes a stabbing and burning pain that may last only while urinating or may persist for some time.

Abnormal Urine

Changes in your urine's appearance or odor are also signs that you may have bladder cancer. It may look cloudy or very yellow as though it's super concentrated. It may also have a pink tinge if blood is present. When you wipe after urinating, drops of blood may appear on the toilet paper. A foul odor is also common. Any changes in your urine should be noted to your doctor.


Incontinence is another effect of bladder cancer. It often goes along with urinary urgency and frequency, as previously mentioned. When you suddenly feel as though you need to urinate, the urge can be uncontrollable. The bladder may spasm, causing you to expel urine when not in the bathroom. This can be extremely embarrassing and dramatically effect your lifestyle.

Malignant Bladder Cancer Prognosis

All bladder cancers are malignant, since "malignant" is simply a term that means "contains cancer cells." Bladder cancer occurs in the organ of the human body that stores urine. The bladder is a balloon-shaped organ in the pelvic region. Bladder cancer typically begins on the inside bladder walls and commonly affects older adults. However, the condition has been known to affect those of any age. Although most bladder cancer is detected in its early stages, there is a good chance it will recur. According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research the prognosis for this condition is based on the stage of the cancer.

Stage 0

The earliest stage of bladder cancer is stage 0. At this stage the cancer is noninvasive; the cancerous cells have begun to form, but they have not invaded the muscle or connective tissue. There is no chance the cancer has had the opportunity to spread to the lymph nodes or other nearby areas of the body. Prognosis for this stage of bladder cancer is good. The American Cancer Society determines prognosis for patients based on a five-year survivability rate. The five-year survivability rate for someone with Stage 0 bladder cancer is 98 percent.

Stage I

Stage 1 is still considered early in the stages of cancer cell growth. Cancerous cells are seen growing and they have invaded the bladder muscle and tissue but have not grown into the connective tissue. There is still no chance at this stage that the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or nearby parts of the body. The five-year prognosis for someone with Stage 1 cancer is 88 percent. (American Cancer Society, Inc., 2009)

Stage II

In stage 2 of bladder cancer, the cancerous cells have spread into the thick layer of muscle that surrounds the bladder wall. The cancer has not penetrated the layer of fatty tissue that surrounds the bladder's outside. Cancer cells have not spread to lymph nodes or other nearby organs. Prognosis at this stage is less positive than if detected in Stage 0 or 1, but the survivability rate is still more than half. The American Cancer Society reports that the five-year survivability rate is approximately 63 percent for patients diagnosed at this stage of the cancer progression.

Stage III

Stage 3 bladder cancer is indicated by the depth of cancerous cell growth. In this stage, the cancer is considered invasive. The cancer has grown completely through the layers of the outside bladder wall and may have spread to other body parts, including nearby organs or glands such as the prostate, uterus or vagina. The cancer cells are not yet growing into the wall of abdomen and there is still no chance the growth has extended into the lymph nodes or other sites in the body that are not nearby the original growth area. Bladder cancer at this stage is still treatable. The further along a patient is diagnosed, however, the less hopeful the prognosis. Stage 3 prognosis for a five-year survivability rate is slightly less than half, at 46 percent. (American Cancer Society, Inc., 2009)

Stage IV

Stage 4 is the last stage of bladder cancer. Cancerous cells have invaded the bladder wall completely and have begun to invade the wall of the abdomen or pelvic wall as well. It is highly likely that at this stage of cell growth, the cancer may have spread to the lymph nodes or other distant body parts such as the bones, liver or lungs. There is treatment for this stage of the condition, but the five-year prognosis for someone with this stage of bladder cancer is not very good--only 15 percent. (American Cancer Society, Inc., 2009)


Be sure to visit your doctor if you notice blood in your urine, have painful or frequent urination, back pain or abdominal pain.

Types of Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer

The primary forms of treatment Bladder of cancer are surgery, radiation, immunotherapy and chemotherapy. 


Chemotherapy is one type of treatment for bladder cancer, and depending on the stage and extent of the cancer, the medication may be given in different ways. Chemotherapeutic drugs interfere with and stop the cancer cells from replicating and growing.

Modes of Administration

Bladder cancer may be treated with intravesical chemotherapy, which is done by delivering the medication into the bladder through a tube inserted through the urethra. This type of administration allows the chemotherapy to work directly on the cancer cells in the lining of the bladder. If there is any cancer outside the lining of the bladder, it will not be affected by this chemotherapy. This is used primarily for early-stage bladder cancers.

Other ways of administering chemotherapy include giving pills to be taken by mouth or administering the medication intravenously.


Combination chemotherapy, or using more than one chemotherapeutic drug at a time, has been shown to be more effective than using one drug at a time for bladder cancer . Combinations that are often used in treating bladder cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, include methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin (brand name Adriamycin) and cisplatin (this combination is called M-VAC); gemcitabine and cisplatin (GemCIS); and carboplatin and a taxane drug (usually paclitaxel or docetaxel). Other drugs that can be used in treating bladder cancer include cyclophosphamide (brand name Cytoxan), 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and mytomycin C.

Side Effects

Because chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, meaning it affects cells throughout the body, there are a wide variety of side effects that may occur. Common side effects include nausea and vomiting, hair loss, loss of appetit, and mouth sores. These side effects vary, depending on the specific drugs that are given, the dosage and the individual. Low blood-cell counts are also a common side effect of chemotherapy. A low white-blood-cell count increases the risk of infection, a low platelet count may cause bruising, and a low count of red blood cells may cause fatigue. Sometimes physicians will give other medications to help boost blood-cell counts to combat these side effects. Antinausea medications also help alleviate any nausea and vomiting that may occur.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that investigate new ways of treating a medical problem. Many cancer clinical trials work on developing new chemotherapy drugs to better treat cancer. Talk to your doctor about whether a clinical trial would be beneficial to you, and whether you are able to participate. She will be able to explain what trials are being done, and what each one is exploring.





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