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Follow up for invasive bladder cancer

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This page tells you about follow up appointments after treatment for invasive bladder cancer. You can find information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Follow up for invasive bladder cancer

After your treatment has finished, you will need to have regular check ups. This is to see how you are recovering, and to pick up any early signs of the cancer coming back. At first you will usually have a check up at least every 2 to 3 months. If all goes well, they’ll gradually get further apart.

Tests you may have

At check ups, your doctor will examine you. They will ask how you feel and whether you have any symptoms, or whether anything is worrying you. You will have a urine test. At some visits you might have a scan, X-ray or cystoscopy as well.

If you are worried or notice any new symptoms between check ups, tell your doctor or nurse straight away. You don't have to wait for your next appointment.

Worrying about your appointments

You may find your check ups quite worrying, especially at first. It may be helpful to tell someone close to you how you feel. Having someone go along with you to your check ups may help. If you find that worry is seriously affecting your life, you may find it helpful to have counselling. To find out about counselling, look in the coping with cancer section. You can also share experiences with other people affected by bladder cancer on our online forum, CancerChat.

 

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Why you need check ups

After your treatment has finished, you will need to have regular check ups. The aim of these appointments is to see how you are recovering from your treatment. And they also make sure that any sign of the cancer coming back is picked up as soon as possible.

Your follow up will vary, depending on the treatment you have had. For example, if you have had the bladder removed (cystectomy) or bladder reconstruction, you will go back to see your surgeon regularly. If you have had radiotherapy, you will go back to see your radiotherapy doctor (clinical oncologist) as well as seeing a surgeon (urologist) for regular bladder checks (cystoscopies).

If all goes well, the time between appointments will gradually get longer. At first it is usual to see your doctor at least every 2 to 3 months. This will become 4 monthly, 6 monthly and then yearly. But this depends on your own circumstances.

 

Tests you may have

Whichever doctor you see, you will have some tests from time to time. These may include

You won't have all these tests at every visit to your specialist but your doctor will almost certainly examine you. Your doctor will also ask

  • How you are feeling
  • Whether you have had any new symptoms
  • Whether you are worried about anything

If you still have your bladder, you will have cystoscopies regularly to make sure there is no sign of the cancer growing back. You may have these

  • every 3 months for 2 years, then
  • every 6 months for 2 years, then
  • every year after that
 

Symptoms or side effects

If you are worried, or notice any new symptoms between appointments let your doctor or nurse know straight away. You don't have to wait for your next appointment.

Do make sure you tell your doctor or specialist 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 to make sure your treatment has been as successful as possible in allowing 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 are able to 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. We have information on what counselling is, including information about how to find counselling services in your area.

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Updated: 14 May 2015