Understanding Bladder Cancer: Explore Your Options

If you’ve been diagnosed with bladder cancer, it’s important to explore all options related to bladder cancer treatment. Below, learn what’s next, what questions to ask the doctor, and what treatments are available.

Finding an Oncologist

The first step on the bladder cancer treatment journey is to find an oncologist (medical or surgical) who inspires trust. It may seem overwhelming to choose an oncologist. First, start with referrals from your primary care physician, specialist, or insurance carrier. Talk to family and friends who may have recommendations.  

Here are some things to consider when choosing an oncologist:

  • Is the oncologist board certified?
  • How much experience does he or she have in treating colon cancer?
  • Do you feel comfortable talking with this doctor? Does he or she listen well?
  • Is the staff compassionate? Is the environment a good one or do you feel rushed?
  • What hospital(s) does this oncologist see patients in?
  • What are the office hours?
  • What if you have an emergency? Can you call?
  • Can this doctor be contacted after hours?

You will be spending a lot of time with the oncologist and staff nurses and technicians, so it’s important to feel comfortable with them. 

As you and your doctor explore the treatment options open to you, make sure you find out the answers to the following:

  • What are the chances my cancer will come back after this treatment?
  • What do we do if the cancer comes back or the treatment doesn’t work?
  • Will I lose my hair?
  • Will it hurt?
  • Will there be scars? 

Choosing a Cancer Center

Choosing where to receive treatment is just as important as selecting an oncologist. It’s good to know the differences between hospitals. Here are some guidelines:

  • Academic cancer centers: These are affiliated with medical schools. At these locations, high priority is put on research. They are usually located in large cities.
  • Community cancer centers: The main focus is on patient care. 
  • Cancer centers: These are noted for a high quality of science and research.

Some questions to ask before choosing where to get your treatment include:

  • Volume: How many bladder cancer surgeries does the surgeon do annually?
  • Travel: How far do you want to travel? Would there be extra costs?
  • Cost: Is the hospital covered by your insurance plan?
  • Accreditations: What accreditations does the hospital hold? 

Treatment Options

It’s helpful to understand the possible treatments for bladder cancer. Click on the following treatment types to learn more about each option. Reading these should help you know what to expect, what the potential side effects are, and what the advantages are to each.  

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

It is important to have honest, open discussions with your cancer care team. They want to answer all of your questions, no matter how trivial they might seem to you.

For instance, consider these questions:

  • Do you think the cancer has spread beyond my bladder?
  • What is the stage and grade of my cancer?
  • Are there other tests that need to be done before we can decide on treatment?
  • Are there other doctors I need to see?
  • How much experience do you have in treating this type of cancer?
  • What treatment choices do I have? What do you recommend? Why?
  • What is the goal of the treatment?
  • How quickly do we need to decide on treatment?
  • How long will treatment last? What will it involve? Where will it be done?
  • What are the risks or side effects of different treatments?
  • Will I be able to have children after my treatment?
  • Will the treatment affect my sex life? How?
  • What are the chances of my cancer coming back with the treatment you suggest?
  • Should I follow a special diet?
  • What should I do to get ready for treatment?
  • What would we do if the treatment doesn't work or if the cancer recurs?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?

Back to “Understanding Bladder Cancer: An Introduction”