Trimodal therapy for bladder cancer
For some people with muscle-invasive tumours, trimodal therapy may be used instead of cystectomy. This involves three types of treatment: a shorter surgery to remove the bladder tumour (TURBT) followed by a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy (chemoradiation). The chemotherapy makes the cancer cells more sensitive to radiation.
If you have chemoradiation, you will usually receive chemotherapy once a week a few hours before the radiation therapy appointment. The radiation therapy is usually given from Monday to Friday for up to seven weeks.
During and after chemoradiation, you may experience side effects from both the chemotherapy and the radiation therapy. Talk to your treatment team about ways to manage the side effects of chemoradiation.
Trimodal therapy has the advantage of not removing the bladder, so you can still urinate in the usual way. You will need to have regular cystoscopies after treatment to check that the cancer has not come back. Some people who have had trimodal therapy for muscle-invasive bladder cancer will later need their bladder removed because the cancer has come back.
Some studies show that trimodal therapy works as well as cystectomy, while others show that cystectomy has better survival rates. Talk to your medical team about whether trimodal therapy may be an option in your situation.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Prof Dickon Hayne, UWA Medical School, The University of Western Australia, and Head, Urology, South Metropolitan Health Service, WA; BEAT Bladder Cancer Australia; Dr Anne Capp, Senior Staff Specialist, Radiation Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Marc Diocera, Genitourinary Nurse Consultant, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Peter Heathcote, Senior Urologist, Princess Alexandra Hospital, and Adjunct Professor, Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre, QLD; Melissa Le Mesurier, Consumer; Dr James Lynam, Medical Oncologist Staff Specialist, Calvary Mater Newcastle and The University of Newcastle, NSW; John McDonald, Consumer; Michael Twycross, Consumer; Rosemary Watson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria.
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