After treatment for invasive bladder cancer, you have regular check ups. Find out about follow up appointments and tests.
Why you have follow up appointments
You have follow up appointments to check how you are and whether you have any problems or worries. They also give you the opportunity to raise any concerns you have about your progress.
Your doctor or nurse examines you at each appointment. They ask how you are feeling, whether you have had any symptoms or side effects and if you are worried about anything.
Your follow up varies depending on the treatment you’ve had. You go back to see your surgeon regularly after bladder surgery.
After radiotherapy, you go back to see your radiotherapy doctor (clinical oncologist). You also see a surgeon (urologist) for regular bladder checks (cystoscopies).
You will have some tests from time to time.
Tests you might have
Whichever doctor you see, you have some tests from time to time. These might include:
- being examined by your doctor
- cystoscopy if you still have your bladder
- CT scans
- urine tests
- blood tests
- glomerular filtration rate test or renogram to check how well your kidneys are working
You have cystoscopies regularly if you still have your bladder. This is to make sure there is no sign of the cancer growing back. You might have cystoscopies:
- every 3 months for 2 years
- then every 6 months for 2 years
- then every year
How often you have appointments
If all goes well, the time between appointments will gradually get longer.
Usually you see your doctor at least every 2 to 3 months at first. You then have an appointment every 4 months, every 6 months and then every year. But this depends on your own circumstances.
Tell your doctor or specialist nurse straight away if you are worried, or if you notice any new symptoms between appointments. You don't have to wait for your next appointment.
Do also tell your doctor or nurse about any continuing side effects of your treatment. Your check ups are not just to make sure your cancer is under control. They are also to make sure your treatment allows you to live as normal and healthy a life as you can.
Some side effects may be permanent, such as the bladder being able to hold less urine after radiotherapy. But it may be possible to help you, even if the doctor cannot get rid of the side effect altogether.
Worrying about appointments
You may find your check ups quite worrying, especially at first. If you are feeling well and getting on with life, a hospital appointment can bring all the worry about your cancer back to you.
You may find it helpful to tell someone close to you how you feel. If you can share your worries, they may not seem quite so bad. Having someone go along with you to your check up may help on the day.
If you find that worry is seriously affecting your life, you may need more help. It is quite common these days for people to have counselling after cancer treatment. This is a way of exploring more deeply what is worrying you and helping you come to terms with it.