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Questions to Ask About Bladder Cancer

It’s important to have honest, open talks with your cancer care team. Ask any question, no matter how small it might seem. Here are some examples of things you might want to ask:

When you’re told you have bladder cancer

  • What type of bladder cancer do I have?
  • What is the stage and grade of the cancer, and what does that mean?
  • Do you think the cancer has spread beyond my bladder?
  • Will I need any other tests before we can decide on treatment?
  • Do I need to see any other doctors?
  • If I’m concerned about the costs and insurance coverage for my diagnosis and treatment, who can help me?

When deciding on a treatment plan

  • How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What do you recommend and why?
  • What is the goal of each treatment?
  • Should I get a second opinion? How do I do that? Can you recommend a doctor or cancer center?
  • What are the chances my cancer can be cured?
  • Does my bladder need to be removed? Are there other treatment options that do not include bladder removal?
  • If my bladder is removed, what are my options for passing urine? What are the pros and cons of each?
  • How soon do I need to start treatment?
  • What can I do to get ready for treatment?
  • How long will treatment last? What will it be like? Where will it be done?
  • What risks or side effects should I expect? How long are they likely to last?
  • Will treatment affect my daily activities?
  • How likely is it that the cancer will come back? Is there anything I can do to help lower this risk?
  • What will we do if the treatment doesn’t work or if the cancer comes back?

During treatment

Once treatment starts, you’ll need to know what to expect and what to look for. Not all of these questions may apply, but getting answers to the ones that do may be helpful.

  • How will we know if the treatment is working?
  • Is there anything I can do to help manage side effects?
  • What symptoms or side effects should I tell you about right away?
  • How can I reach you or someone on your team on nights, holidays, or weekends?
  • Do I need to change what I eat during treatment?
  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • Should I exercise? What should I do, and how often?
  • Do you know of any local or online support groups where I can talk to others who have been through this?
  • Can you suggest a mental health professional I can see if I start to feel overwhelmed, depressed, or distressed?

After treatment

  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • What kind of exercise should I do now?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • How often will I need to have follow-up exams and tests?
  • How will we know if the cancer has come back? What should I watch for?
  • What would my options be if the cancer does come back?

Along with these sample questions, be sure to write down any of your own. For instance, you might want to ask about recovery times so that you can plan your work or activity schedule, or you may want to ask if there are clinical trials you might be eligible for.

Keep in mind that doctors aren’t the only ones who can give you information. Other health care professionals, such as nurses and social workers, can answer a lot of your questions. To find more about working with your health care team, see The Doctor-Patient Relationship.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: March 12, 2024

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