Intravesical Chemotherapy and Chemohyperthermia in Non-Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer; An Overview on Drug Administration Technologies and Pharmacokinetics

Curr Drug Metab. 2017;18(7):657-665. doi: 10.2174/1389200218666170427092421.


Background: Tumor recurrence is the most expected clinical event after the resection of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, depending on histological findings of the initial lesion. In patients with low and intermediate risk of disease, the intravesical instillation of chemotherapy agents is recommended as a standard treatment to reduce recurrences.

Methods: A comprehensive review covering various aspects of different treatments with intravesical drugs is presented.

Results: Drugs may be instilled into the bladder starting with a single, 'early' postoperative administration or, after tumor resection with adjuvant intent or, before tumor resection under a neo-adjuvant regimen. Both latter protocols would consist of weekly treatments followed by monthly maintenance treatments. Different methods of administering drugs intravesically have been proposed to enhance the depth of drug penetration and its absorption into the bladder wall thus increasing the rate of drug-DNA reaction. These device-assisted therapies therefore have set a goal to potentiate the drug's effect and efficaciousness. The Radiofrequency-Induced Thermochemotherapeutic Effect (RITE) and the Electromotive-Drug Administration (EMDA) are the two most relevant modalities used to increase the activity of intravesical chemotherapy. Despite the widely adopted international guidelines' recommendations, and recent clinical trials of device-assisted chemotherapy instillations showing markedly enhanced recurrence-free survival compared even to the standard of care, clinicians and pharmacologists are not familiar with the in-depth physical aspects, pharmacokinetics and systemic absorption of chemotherapeutic drugs following their intravesical administration.

Conclusion: Knowledge of drug diffusion mechanisms into the tissue and cellular cytoplasm following bladder instillation is a key to understand the safety profile and clinical activity of chemotherapy.

Keywords: Intravesical chemotherapy; RITE; chemohyperthermia; electromotive drug administration; hyperthermia; mitomycin; pharmacokinetics; radiofrequency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravesical
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents