4 Questions to Ask After a Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

An expert outlined four important conversations patients with bladder cancer should have with their care team.

For patients who have received a diagnosis of bladder cancer, the conversations they have with their care team can be incredibly important, as one expert explained.

“Bladder cancer is really a heterogeneous disease. On one hand, you have a mild type of cancer, one you have a very aggressive life-threatening cancer. So, the conversations will be very different from each of these patients. What usually happens is that when the patient is initially diagnosed, they are usually managed by local urologist or a community urologist. But if they are diagnosed with aggressive cancers, that’s when the conversations on other things become very important,” said Dr. Murugesan Manoharan.

Manoharan, surgical urologic oncologist and the chief of urologic oncology surgery at Miami Cancer Institute, as well as the chairman of the Department of Urology and Abbhi Family Endowed Chair in Urologic Oncology at Baptist Health South Florida and a professor of urology at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International University, explained four key questions patients should as their care team following a diagnosis of bladder cancer.

Does the facility have a multidisciplinary team and a tumor board?

“First of all, does that hospital or that center have what is called a multidisciplinary team, meaning the patient will be treated not alone by the surgeon, they will be treated with a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, psychologist, many other support people”? said Manoharan. “So, [asking] ‘Do you have a team-based approach to deal with a bladder cancer?’ is the most important thing. Or, [is there] a single person who is making a decision?

“And along with those things, you need to know whether they have something called a tumor board, where the individual patient will be presented to a group of doctors from different specialties and they make a joint decision. That’s the first question to ask, ‘Hey, do you have a multidisciplinary team and a tumor board or review system?’”

Learn More: Moving Into an Era of Targeted Bladder Cancer Treatments

Does the facility have access to clinical trials?

“Sometimes you have the long-standing old treatments, but the new treatments come through the clinical trials, [where] both the patient gets benefited and the patient also benefits the future generations to come,” said Manoharan. “So, whether that center has clinical trials or whether any clinical trials are available for that particular patient is a second important question I’d ask.”

Does the provider have access to the latest technological advancements?

“[With] scientific advances many things, [such as] CT scans, PET scans, have changed and the treatment has changed. So, we need to know whether that particular doctor or the center has access to new technological advances,” said Manoharan.

Learn More: Answering the Call for Bladder Cancer Support

Is there a patient support group available?

“Doctors like us, we do not know how to be a patient,” Manoharan said. “We can understand, but we have never been a patient, whereas in a support group, a patient who underwent chemotherapy and even surgery, they all will be there. If there is a patient support group there, this particular patient can join them and [patients can] speak to each other and get to know more about the disease and how to cope with things.”

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