Coping with bladder cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Coping with bladder cancer

It can be very difficult to cope with a diagnosis of cancer, both practically and emotionally. You are likely to feel very confused and upset at first. As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of cancer brings, you have to work out how to manage practically. The coping with cancer section contains lots of information you may find helpful. There are sections about

  • Your feelings
  • Talking to people: who and what to tell
  • Talking to children
  • How you can help yourself
  • Who else can help you
  • Financial support including government benefits and charity grants


CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Living with bladder cancer section.



Coping with your diagnosis

It can be very difficult to cope with a diagnosis of bladder cancer, both practically and emotionally. At first, you are likely to feel very upset, frightened and confused. Or you may feel that things are out of your control. It is very important to get the right information about your type of cancer and how it is best treated. People who are well informed about their illness and treatment are more able to make decisions and cope with what happens.


How bladder cancer can affect you physically

Bladder cancer and its treatment may cause physical changes in your body. These changes can be very difficult to cope with and may affect the way you feel about yourself. If you have early bladder cancer and need regular cystoscopies, you may have cystitis symptoms, urine infection or blood in the urine (haematuria) afterwards. Your doctor or specialist nurse will advise you how to cope with this and can prescribe medicines to help.

Surgery for bladder cancer may cause scarring. It can be especially difficult if you have your whole bladder removed (total cystectomy). You will then need support to help you learn how to deal with the changes, particularly if you have a stoma. There is information about coping after bladder cancer surgery in this section. Such body changes can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends.

Another problem you may have to cope with is feeling very tired and lethargic a lot of the time. You may feel this way for a while after treatment or if the bladder cancer is advanced. There is information about fatigue and cancer and treating cancer fatigue in the section on coping physically with cancer.

If you are having a sexual relationship, one or all of these changes may affect your sex life. There is information about how cancer can affect your sex life in the coping with cancer section.


Coping practically with bladder cancer

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of bladder cancer brings, you may also have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. You may need information about financial support, such as benefits, sick pay and grants.

Who do you tell that you have cancer? And how do you find the words? You may also have children to think about. There is information about talking to people about your cancer and how and what to tell children.

Just try to remember that you don't have to sort everything out at once. It may take some time to deal with each issue. Do ask for help if you need it though. It is likely that your doctor or specialist nurse will know who you can contact to get some help. They can put you in touch with professionals who are specially trained in supporting people with cancer. These people are there to help and want you to feel that you have support. So use them if you feel you need to.

You may need to have access to support staff, such as a stoma nurse or dietician. Social workers can help you with information about your entitlement to sick pay and benefits. If you live alone, a social worker may be able to help by organising convalescence when you first come out of hospital.


More information on coping with bladder cancer

The coping with cancer section has lots of helpful information. There are sections on

If you would like more detailed information about coping with bladder cancer, contact one of the organisations on our bladder cancer organisations list. They will be happy to help. They often have free factsheets and booklets they can send to you. They may also be able to put you in touch with a support group. There is also a bladder cancer reading list.

You can also contact our cancer information nurses. They would be happy to help. 

Our counselling section has details of counselling organisations that can tell you more about counselling and help you find sources of emotional support in your area.

If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use Cancer Chat, our online forum.

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Updated: 21 May 2015