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Systemic Treatment Options

John Muir Health is on the forefront of using innovative systemic treatments (chemotherapy, biologic therapy or hormonal treatment) to treat urological cancer.

Some creative forms of non-surgical therapy options may help to prevent or control the growth of your cancer.


Chemotherapy is sometimes used to treat advance cases of prostate cancer and is rarely used to treat kidney cancer, usually only for recurrent kidney cancer, cancer that has metastasized to other organs, or for transitional-cell carcinoma, which is a less common form of kidney cancer. 

Patients with superficial bladder cancer may receive a non-systemic form of chemotherapy known as intravesical chemotherapy in conjunction with surgery to control the cancer.

Systemic chemotherapy is sometimes used alone or in combination with radiation oncology to eradicate the last remnants of the bladder cancer. Patients with a metastatic bladder cancer that is spreading to other organs and is, therefore, not conducive to surgical removal may undergo chemotherapy, using a combination of anticancer drugs.

Patients with advanced stage or metastatic testicular cancer also will often receive chemotherapy in combination with surgery for treatment.

Through its active research program with regional and national affiliations, John Muir Health can provide patients with access to investigational chemotherapy drugs if you and your doctor decide that’s the best course of action.

Biologic Therapy

John Muir Health offers leading edge minimally invasive biotherapy options to treat bladder and kidney cancer.

For the treatment of superficial bladder cancer, we inject a bacterial agent known as Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) into the bladder via the urethra that causes a tumor-fighting inflammatory response within the bladder. The patient is generally treated once a week for six weeks, then put on a maintenance regimen to prevent recurrence. This treatment does produce some side effects that are very tolerable for most.

Patients with advanced kidney cancer that has metastasized (spread) may receive immunotherapy to stimulate the body’s own immune system in addition to surgery to stop the cancer from growing.  Another type of biologic agent puts the cancer in a holding pattern by blocking the hormones that stimulate its growth.

Hormonal Treatment ­

For the treatment of prostate cancer, hormonal therapy is sometimes used before radiation to shrink the tumor or to treat patients with metastatic cancer who experience a relapse. Hormone-blocking drugs stop the production of testosterone, which can stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells.

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