Whether you are a bladder cancer survivor or living with your bladder cancer under monitoring, learning to live with cancer can be difficult and stressful. Life after bladder cancer means returning to some familiarity while also having to adjust to new changes.
As bladder cancer has a relatively high recurrence rate, your doctors will still want to watch you closely and have you come in for follow-up appointments. You will likely be asked about any problems or symptoms you are experiencing, and undergo exams, lab tests, and imaging tests to look for any signs of cancer recurrence. This is also a good chance to tell your doctor about any changes or problems you have noticed, or simply discuss any concerns.
Typically, it is recommended to get an exam every 3 to 6 months for patients who have no signs of cancer following treatment. This is to see if the cancer has returned or if there is a new cancer in the bladder or urinary tract. As time goes by and no new cancers are found, these visits will become less and less frequent.
Can I lower my risk of recurrence?
This may be a question you ask yourself or your doctor. Unfortunately, there has not been much research proving that there are habits that can reduce risk of recurrence of bladder cancer. However, even if these behaviours do not reduce your cancer recurrence, they can improve your quality of life and mental wellness – for example, eating well, exercising, and not smoking.
Adopting healthy behaviours
As mentioned above, healthy behaviours may not reduce the risk of your cancer returning, but they will help improve your quality of life and make you feel better overall. Such behaviours include healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising, and not smoking.
Once treatment has concluded, you will be adjusting to major changes in your life. For example, patients having undergone a radical cystectomy may have to alter their routines because of changes in how they urinate. If need be, you can talk to your doctor or another health professional for advice on how to live with a urostomy.
There are many support groups available for bladder cancer patients and survivors. It can be beneficial to hear others’ stories and experiences, and help you realize that you are not alone in your situation. Bladder Cancer Canada offers a list of support groups near you, as well as information on how to start your own support group.
Most information taken from American Cancer Society.