Meet the Members of Your Bladder Cancer Treatment Team
When you begin treatment for bladder cancer, you will have a team of health care professionals working with you. Each member of the team is responsible for a specific part of your treatment.
Primary Care Doctor
This is the doctor who is most familiar with you. You probably went to your primary care doctor when you first started having symptoms of bladder cancer. You may have had laboratory tests completed at your doctor’s request and discussed specialists in your area who can treat your bladder cancer. Throughout your treatment and after, your primary care doctor may stay involved, monitoring not only symptoms of a possible recurrence of cancer but also your overall physical and emotional health.
Urologists specialize in treating the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. They treat both men and women, but in men they will also treat the prostate, testicles, and genitals. The urologist has knowledge of surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, gynecology, and other areas of health care because of the wide range of clinical problems treated.
Oncologists specialize in cancer treatments. Once you’ve been diagnosed with bladder cancer, you’ll be referred to an oncologist, who’ll take the lead in your treatment and help you understand your treatment options. Some oncologists specialize in specific types of cancer, such as urological cancer, or specific treatments, such as radiation therapy.
Pathologists work behind the scenes and although you may never meet these medical professionals, their role is important. Having accurate test results is crucial to getting a precise diagnosis. These doctors analyze and interpret laboratory tests and tissue samples. They complete reports and send them to your doctors, who then explain the results to you.
Oncology nurses specialize in working with patients receiving cancer treatment. They help support the patient, family, and caregivers and because you may spend extended time getting treatment, you may develop close relationships with your oncology nurses.
Patient navigators guide you through the health care system. Some of the things patient navigators can help with include:
- Understanding your health insurance
- Setting up appointments for specialists and medical tests
- Helping you communicate with the different medical professionals on your health care team
- Find financial, legal, and social support for you and your family
Oncology Social Worker
An oncology social worker helps patients and their families cope with the many challenges of dealing with a cancer diagnosis. They provide counseling, help you manage stress, work with you in communicating with your health care team, and help you locate resources to help you and your family at home.
Eating right can help improve your tolerance to cancer treatment. Nutritionists or dietitians that specialize in oncology will work with you on creating a plan to eat well before, during, and after your treatment. One concern during cancer treatments is weight loss, and a dietitian or nutritionist can help you find ways to maintain your weight.
Oncology pharmacists compound, prepare, and dispense medications for chemotherapy. They can help you better understand the medications you are taking, the possible side effects, and ways to manage side effects. When filling prescriptions outside of the cancer center, your pharmacist can help make sure that you’re not taking medications that can cause serious interactions with each other and can answer questions about timing and dosage.