Start by seeing your family doctor or a primary doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. Your doctor may suggest tests and procedures to investigate your signs and symptoms.
If your doctor suspects you may have bladder cancer, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating diseases and conditions of the urinary tract (urologist). In some cases, you may be referred to other specialists, such as doctors who treat cancer (oncologists).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well-prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For bladder cancer, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do I have bladder cancer?
- What is the stage of my cancer?
- Will I need any additional tests?
- What are my treatment options?
- Can any treatments cure my bladder cancer?
- What are the potential risks of each treatment?
- Is there one treatment you feel is best for me?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions that occur to you.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow time later to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
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- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
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- Bladder and other urothelial cancers screening (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/screening/bladder/healthprofessional. Accessed May 4, 2015.
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- Guideline for the management of nonmuscle invasive bladder cancer (stages Ta, T1 and Tis): 2007 update. Linthicum, Md.: American Urological Association. http://www.auanet.org/content/guidelines-and-quality-care/clinical-guidelines.cfm?sub=bc. Accessed May 4, 2015.
- Wein AJ, et al., eds. Urothelial cancer. In: Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 4, 2015.
- FDA drug safety communication: Update to ongoing safety review of Actos (pioglitazone) and increased risk of bladder cancer. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm259150.htm. Accessed May 5, 2015.
- Knoedler J, et al. Organ-sparing surgery in urology: Partial cystectomy. Current Opinion Urology. 2015;25:111.
- Smith ND, et al. The RAZOR (randomized open vs. robotic cystectomy) trial: Study design and trial update. British Journal of Urology International. 2015;115:198.
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- Castle EP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz. June 11, 2015.