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Urethral Cancer Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells.

Photo of intravenous drug bag

The drugs used in chemotherapy attack and kill cells that divide quickly, including cancer cells and some normal cells.

Chemotherapy is not commonly used in the treatment of patients with urethral cancer. It has been used in certain circumstances:

  • To shrink the cancer before surgery in order to make it easier to completely resect (remove)

  • To treat the cancer with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation when surgery is either not feasible or the patient has chosen not to have surgery 

  • To treat cancer that has spread to distant organs

When used, the specific drugs and the amount given will depend on whether the cancer is a transitional cell carcinoma or a squamous cell carcinoma.

Side effects of chemotherapy

The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type of drugs that are given. Chemotherapy attacks cells that divide quickly, such as cancer cells. However, healthy cells can sometimes be affected, too. If white blood cell levels are affected by chemotherapy, the risk of infection becomes much higher. Any symptoms of infection, particularly fever, during chemotherapy should be reported to the doctor or nurse as soon as possible.

If platelet counts are down, there may be a higher risk of bruising and bleeding more easily from a cut or injury. Tiredness is also possible because of the lack of red blood cells. In addition, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, loss of hair, mouth sores, and diarrhea are other possible side effects. Most of these side effects go away a few days or weeks after the treatment is stopped. There are drugs that can help reduce the side effects and help people recover from chemotherapy more quickly.