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What to Expect After Chemotherapy for Bladder Cancer

Ask your oncologist and chemotherapy nurse for the details on each drug's side effects. Side effects of chemotherapy are different for everyone and vary based on the types of drugs you receive.

Generally people treated with intravesical chemotherapy experience far fewer side effects than those having systemic treatment. These are the most common side effects for people who have local chemotherapy for bladder cancer:

  • Urinary frequency

  • Urinary urgency

  • Pain or burning with urination

These side effects usually get better with time.

With systemic chemotherapy, side effects may be short term, called acute, or ongoing, called chronic. Here are some side effects you may have:

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Loss of appetite

  • Hair loss

  • Low blood cell counts, which may cause: 

    • Infections due to low white blood cell levels, called neutropenia

    • Bleeding or bruising due to low platelet levels, called thrombocytopenia

    • Fatigue due to low red blood cell levels, called anemia

  • Anxiety and insomnia

  • Mouth sores 

  • Diarrhea and/or constipation 

  • Mild cognitive impairment during or after chemotherapy

Symptoms of cognitive impairment can include trouble concentrating, short-term memory lapses, trouble multitasking, and trouble with word finding — for instance, remembering names.  

In addition to the side effects above, some drugs used to treat bladder cancer may cause kidney damage. You may be given fluids through a vein during the procedure to help prevent this. You may also be advised to drink lots of fluids before and after the treatments.

Online Medical Reviewer: Foster, Sara, RN, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 12/30/2013
© 2013 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.