Bladder Cancer: Questions to Ask the Doctor

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some questions to ask your doctor or other members of your health care team to help you better understand your diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Talking often with the doctor is important to make informed decisions about your health care. These suggested questions are a starting point to help you learn more about your cancer care and treatment. You are also encouraged to ask additional questions that are important to you. You may want to print this list and bring it to your next appointment, or download Cancer.Net’s free mobile app for an e-list and other interactive tools to manage your care.

General questions

  • What type of bladder cancer do I have?
  • Is it noninvasive or invasive? What does this mean?
  • If the cancer is invasive, does it involve the muscle?
  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?
  • What is the stage of my cancer? What does this mean?
  • What is the grade? What does this mean?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What clinical trials are open to me? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?
  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
  • What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?
  • Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?
  • Who will be coordinating my overall treatment and follow-up care?
  • What are the possible side effects of this treatment, both in the short term and the long term?
  • How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?
  • Could this treatment affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long? Can I get help?
  • Could this treatment affect my ability to become pregnant or have children? If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?
  • If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my cancer care, who can help me with these concerns?
  • Do I need treatment right away?

For patients who need surgery

  • Will my entire bladder be removed?
  • Do you have experience with making urinary reservoirs, and can I have that type of surgery?
  • What are the possible side effects of my surgery in the short term and the long term?
  • How will the surgery affect my ability to urinate?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital for this surgery? If so, for how long?
  • Will I need to use a catheter?
  • Will I have a urostomy? If so, how do I care for my urostomy?
  • If I have a neobladder, how will I know when I need to empty it?

For patients who need chemotherapy

  • What type of chemotherapy will I be receiving?
  • How will it be delivered? Through an IV, a catheter, or a pill?
  • How can I prepare for this treatment?
  • What side effects can I expect from this treatment?
  • What can be done to relieve the side effects?

For patients who need immunotherapy

  • What type of immunotherapy will I be receiving?
  • How can I prepare for this treatment?
  • What side effects can I expect from this treatment?
  • What can be done to relieve the side effects?

For patients who need radiation therapy

  • What type of radiation therapy is recommended?
  • What is the goal of radiation therapy?
  • How long will it take to give radiation therapy?
  • What side effects can I expect from this treatment?
  • What can be done to relieve the side effects?

After treatment

  • What are the chances that the tumor will return?
  • What follow-up tests will I need, and how often will I need them?
  • What support services are available to me? To my family?
  • Can I receive a survivorship care plan that highlights areas of concern for me or areas of high risk that I should be aware of in the future?
  • Whom should I call for questions or problems?

The next section offers some more resources that may be helpful to you. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Additional Resources, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.