Follow up

After treatment for invasive bladder cancer, you usually have follow up appointments every few months. These are 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.

You might also have tests including blood tests, cystoscopy and scans. 

What happens

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).

Tests you might have

Whichever doctor you see, you have some tests from time to time. These might include:

  • cystoscopy to look inside your bladder (if you still have your bladder)
  • x-rays
  • CT scans (usually at 6,12 and 24 months after your treatment
  • urine tests
  • blood tests
  • tests to see 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.

Between appointments

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 them 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 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 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.

Last reviewed: 
21 Jun 2019
  • Bladder cancer: diagnosis and management
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), February 2015

  • BMJ Best Practice. Bladder Cancer
    D Lamm and others
    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd, 2018

  • EAU Guidelines on Muscle-invasive and Metastatic Bladder Cancer
    J A Witjes and others
    European Association of Urology, 2017

  • Bladder cancer: ESMO Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    J Bellmunt and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2014. Volume 25, Issue 3, Pages 40-48

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