How treatment is planned

In most hospitals, a group of health professionals will meet to discuss a plan for your treatment. This is called a multidisciplinary team (MDT). The team is made up of doctors, nurses and other health professionals who specialise in treating bladder cancer.

After the meeting, your doctor will talk with you about the best treatment for your situation. 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.

Your doctor can explain the benefits and disadvantages of your treatment options. This can help you reach a decision about treatment. Before any treatment begins, you will need to give permission (consent) for it to take place.

If you have any questions, talk to your doctor or specialist nurse.

Planning your treatment

In most hospitals, a team of specialists will meet to discuss and agree on the plan of treatment they feel is best for you. This multidisciplinary team (MDT) will normally 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
  • 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 physiotherapists, 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. It often helps to make a list of the questions you want to ask. You could also take a close relative or friend with you to help you remember what is discussed.

How does an MDT work?

How the team is organised will depend on where you live - they may be slightly different across the UK. Some MDTs discuss patients from different hospitals. Specialists may be on teams for a number of different types of cancer.

How often an MDT meets may also vary. This could mean that you have to wait a bit longer to get all the results of your scans and a treatment plan from your doctor. This can be frustrating and worrying - but the pooling of different types of expertise should mean the best possible decisions are made about your treatment and care.

If waiting for results is making you anxious, you may find it helpful to talk about how you’re feeling with a partner, your family or close friends. You can also talk things over with one of our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00.

Benefits of an MDT

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that people with cancer should be managed by a multidisciplinary team. People cared for by an MDT are more likely to:

  • receive accurate diagnosis and staging
  • be offered a choice of treatments decided by a group of experts, rather than by one doctor
  • receive better coordination and continuity of care through all stages of the cancer
  • be treated in line with locally agreed policies and national guidelines
  • be offered appropriate and consistent information (because the person giving the information should be aware of the team’s strategy for your care)
  • have their psychological and social needs considered – communication between different team members is better where they have a formal working relationship.

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.

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.