After treatment, you have regular check ups to look for signs of the cancer coming back or spreading. This is called follow up.
Why you have follow up appointments
You have follow up appointments every few months to check how you are and see whether you have any problems or worries. The appointments also give you the chance to raise any concerns you have about your progress.
Your doctor or nurse examines you at each appointment. They ask how you’re feeling, whether you’ve had any symptoms or side effects and if you’re worried about anything.
Your doctor looks inside your bladder using a flexible tube (cystoscopy). You have a local or general anaesthetic while they do this.
How often you have appointments
Your specialist decides how often you should have cystoscopies. This depends on the risk of your cancer coming back or spreading deeper into the bladder wall.
You may only need to have a cystoscopy after 3 months, and then after 1 year.
After this you might not need to see your doctor again.
You may have a cystoscopy after 3, 9 and 18 months.
After that you may have a cystoscopy once every year for up to 5 years after treatment. Then you might not need to see your doctor again.
You may have a cystoscopy every 3 months for 2 years, and then every 6 months for the next 2 years.
After that you might have one cystoscopy every year.
After removal of your bladder (cystectomy)
You still have regular check ups if you had your bladder removed for early bladder cancer. You may have a CT scan 6 months after your operation and once a year after that, to check for any signs of the cancer coming back.
You may also have blood tests at least once a year. These are to check how well your kidneys are working, and that you are absorbing enough vitamin B. Men may also have yearly tests to check their urethra.
Contact your doctor or specialist nurse if you have any concerns. You should also contact them if you notice any new symptoms between appointments. You don’t have to wait until your next visit.
Many people find their check ups quite worrying. A hospital appointment can bring back any anxiety you had about your cancer.
It can help to tell someone close to you how you’re feeling. Sharing your worries can mean they don’t seem so overwhelming. Many people find it helpful to have counselling after cancer treatment.
If your bladder cancer comes back
You can have the growths removed with cystoscopy again if your stage Ta or T1 bladder cancer comes back after treatment.
Your specialist takes more biopsies to check that the cancer is still at an early stage. If it is, you usually have chemotherapy or BCG treatment into the bladder. You then go back to having regular cystoscopies to check your bladder.
Your doctor may ask you to have more intensive treatment if your cancer is:
- grade 3
- at a more advanced stage than before
- CIS that has come back after treatment into the bladder