How treatment is planned

A team of health professionals with expert knowledge in your type of cancer will manage your treatment. This is called a multidisciplinary team (MDT).

The MDT will discuss the results of your tests and plan your treatment. They will look at a number of things, including:

  • the type and size of the cancer, and whether it has spread
  • your general health

You may be given a choice of treatment options, which your specialist will discuss with you. You’ll need to think about the benefits and disadvantages of the different treatment options before you make your decision. You can ask your doctor or specialist nurse if you have any questions.  If you don't understand what you've been told, ask the staff to explain it again.

You will need to give permission (consent) for the hospital staff to give you the treatment.

You may find it helpful to take a friend or relative to your appointments to help you remember the discussion. You may also find it useful to have a list of questions ready to make sure you get the information you need.

Planning your treatment

Your treatment will be planned by a team of specialists. They will discuss your treatment and agree on what they think is best for you.

This multidisciplinary team (MDT) may include:

  • a urologist, who is a surgeon experienced in bladder surgery
  • a specialist urology nurse, who gives information and support
  • oncologists, who are doctors that have experience in bladder cancer treatment using chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiotherapy
  • a specialist stoma nurse, who supports people with stomas
  • a palliative care specialist, who is a doctor or nurse who specialises in symptom control
  • pathologists, who advise on the type of cancer and its extent
  • radiologists, who analyse x-rays and scans.

Other staff are also available to help you if needed. They include dietitians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, counsellors and psychologists.

Your doctor will talk to you about the best treatment for your situation. If you have any questions about your treatment, don’t be afraid to ask the doctor or nurse looking after you.


The benefits and disadvantages of treatment

You may feel worried about having cancer treatment because of the side effects that can happen. If you’re offered a choice of surgery or radiotherapy as your main treatment, you’ll need to think about the benefits and disadvantages of each treatment before you decide which one to have. The table on the treatment decisions page may help. Your doctor or specialist nurse can also answer any questions you have.

If a treatment aims to cure the cancer, you may want to know what the chances are of the cancer coming back. Your doctor can talk to you about this.

If the cancer is advanced and has spread to other parts of the body, you may be offered treatment to control it. This may improve your symptoms and quality of life. If you are having chemotherapy, you’ll be checked for signs that it’s working and to see if there are side effects.

If you choose not to have treatment to control it, treatments can be given to relieve symptoms caused by the cancer. For example, painkillers can be given to control pain.

Making a decision about treatment in these situations can be difficult. Your doctor or specialist nurse can answer any questions you have.


Giving consent

Before you have any treatment, your doctor will explain its aims. They will ask you to sign a form saying that you give permission (consent) for the hospital staff to give you the treatment.

No medical treatment can be given without your consent.

Before you are asked to sign the form, you should be given full information about:

  • the type and extent of the treatment
  • its advantages and disadvantages
  • any significant risks or side effects
  • any other treatments that may be available.

If you don’t understand what you’ve been told, let the staff know straight away, so they can explain again. Some cancer treatments are complex, so it’s not unusual to need repeated explanations.

It’s a good idea to have a relative or friend with you when the treatment is explained, to help you remember the discussion.

You may also find it useful to write a list of questions before your appointment.

People sometimes feel that hospital staff are too busy to answer their questions, but it’s important for you to know how the treatment is likely to affect you. The staff should be willing to make time for your questions.

You can always ask for more time if you feel that you can’t make a decision when your treatment is first explained to you.

You are also free to choose not to have the treatment. The staff can explain what may happen if you don’t have it. It’s essential to tell a doctor or the nurse in charge, so they can record your decision in your medical notes. You don’t have to give a reason for not wanting treatment, but it can help to let the staff know your concerns so they can give you the best advice.

Everyone goes down different routes. Keep positive, ask questions, listen to everyone and then make your own decision.

Ann

Back to Who will be involved in my treatment decision?

Getting a second opinion

There are many reasons for wanting a second opinion about your treatment. Speak to your specialist or GP.

Making a complaint

Talking to your healthcare team can make it easier to cope. If you find talking difficult, there are things you can do.