Who Treats Bladder Cancer?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last review date: September 2017.

If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, you will have an entire team of healthcare providers working to help you in different ways.1,2 Because everyone with bladder cancer has a different type of treatment plan, the cancer care team may include various types of healthcare providers. These include:

  • Primary care physician
  • Pathologist
  • Urologist
  • Oncologist
  • Other types of healthcare and support providers

Primary care doctors can refer you to a specialist

Many people go to their primary care physician with the initial symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of bladder cancer.1 Primary care physicians carry out the initial physical examination and may have urine analyzed. If your primary physician thinks your symptoms are possible signs of bladder cancer, you may be referred to other healthcare providers and specialists for further testing to make a diagnosis.

After you have been treated for bladder cancer, your primary care physician helps to monitor you for signs and symptoms of recurrence, which happens if the cancer cells start to grow again. Detecting possible recurrence at an early stage is very important.

Urologists most commonly diagnose bladder cancer

Urologists are doctors who specialize in treating the urinary tract and reproductive system.2 Many people assume that urologists only specialize in treating men, but this is not true. Urologists treat both men and women. Urologists are experts in the health of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra in men and women. In men, they also treat the prostate, testicles, and genitals.

If you need to have surgery as part of your treatment for bladder cancer, then a urological surgeon may perform the operation. Urologists also provide cancer treatment with certain types of chemotherapy.

Pathologists analyze lab results and tissue samples

Pathologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing diseases by analyzing and interpreting laboratory tests and tissue samples.2 If you have a cystoscopy test as part of your bladder cancer diagnosis, then the tissue sample is sent to a pathologist for analysis. Pathologists also analyze tissue samples from tumors that are removed from the bladder during treatment or diagnosis. Pathologists send their results to your urologist or oncologist, who explains the results to you.

Oncologists specialize in treating cancer

Doctors who specialize in cancer treatments are called oncologists.1-3 Oncologists often take a leading role in the cancer care team after a person receives a diagnosis of cancer.

If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, your oncologist will clearly explain your diagnosis to you and help to guide your decisions about the best way to treat your bladder cancer. Once you have decided on a treatment plan, your oncologist will oversee all aspects of it for you. This is important, because cancer treatment can often be complex and involve a range of different treatments.

Oncologists may oversee bladder cancer care

Some oncologists specialize in certain types of cancer care. Surgical oncologists specialize in removing tumors and cancerous tissues from the body. Doctors who use radiation to treat cancer are called radiation oncologists. Medical oncologists treat cancer with medications, such as chemotherapy.

What other healthcare providers are involved in cancer care?

Depending on your specific treatment plan, you may have other types of healthcare providers on your cancer care team or providing other kinds of support.1,2 These may include:

  • Nurses, including oncology nurses and nurse practitioners (NPs)
  • Physician assistants (PAs)
  • Pharmacists
  • Psychologists and counselors
  • Nutrition specialists and dietitians
  • Social workers

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