Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Bladder Cancer

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 9/2012
Questions to Ask the Doctor

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.

General questions

  • What type of bladder cancer do I have?
  • Is it noninvasive or invasive? What does this mean?
  • 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?
  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
  • What is the goal of this treatment?
  • 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?
  • 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/immunotherapy

  • What type of therapy 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 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 do I call for questions or problems?

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