Finding and Choosing Your Urologist
When you are newly diagnosed with bladder cancer, your care team will expand. In addition to an oncologist, you may need a urologist. You may also have some personal considerations or preferences to keep in mind when finding a new urologist for bladder cancer.
We have some tips to help you navigate the landscape!
First thing's first, what is a urologist?
A urologist is a doctor who specializes in conditions that affect the urinary tract of both men and women. The urinary tract refers to a group of organs that process urine. The upper urinary tract refers to the kidneys and ureters. The lower urinary tract refers to the bladder and urethra.1,2
Urologists are trained in many different conditions that affect these organs. You will want to find one who is experienced with bladder cancers.2,3
How to find the right urologist
You deserve the best medical care available. Choosing the right urologist for you is important, so here are some tips to help your search.
Think about what you need in a urologist:4
- Choose a urologist with experience treating your type of cancer.
- Find one who is in your health plan's network. Some urologists see people within local hospitals or their affiliated outpatient clinics. Try requesting a list of urologists from your hospital. Make sure you are willing to use the hospital where the urologist has admitting privileges.
- Do you have any particular needs to make you comfortable with a doctor? Particular spoken languages? Is the gender, ethnicity, or education of your urologist important? If so, factor this into your choice too.
Make a list of urologists who may work for you:4
- If your primary care doctor did not make a recommendation, ask them for one. They often work with specialists and may know just who you should see.
- Do an internet search for urologists in your area and read patient reviews.
- Talk to people in real life. Ask your friends and family members to consult their social networks for recommendations.
- Call your local hospital and ask if they have support groups for people living with bladder cancer. If so, contact the support group and ask for their recommendations.
- Check for a local bladder cancer organization. If you have a local patient organization that focuses on bladder cancer, ask them for recommendations.
- If you have a health insurance policy, check their website or call for a list of urologists who participate with your plan.
Dig a little deeper - it will be worth it
Once you have located 1 or more highly recommended urologists, you still have a little more digging to do. You will want to learn about their credentials and if they see people like you.
Call the urologist's practice and ask a few questions. Not all urologists see people with cancer. Make sure your top pick does. When you call the practice, ask about the urologist's experience in treating people with bladder cancer, as well as their experience in treating your specific type of cancer. Also, ask if they are taking new patients and which hospital(s) they work in or can admit patients to.4
Look into the urologist's education, credentials, and affiliations. Online biographies will typically list the medical school and/or residencies or fellowships where the urologist was educated and trained.
Investigate whether the urologist is board certified. Call the American Board of Urology at (434) 979-0059 or look online to search their member list for your area.1
Plus, find out if the urologist is affiliated with any medical schools. This lets you know how well-connected your urologist is with other medical experts. Those affiliated with an academic institution are usually up-to-date on the latest treatments.4
Meeting your urologist
Your urologist will be a key member of your bladder cancer care team. Make sure you keep your appointments and bring any requested documents or items with you. Meeting new doctors can be stressful, so writing down any questions you have for your new urologist may help.3
Some things to ask may include:3
- What kind of bladder cancer was I diagnosed with?
- Has my cancer spread? What stage is it?
- What treatments do you recommend for me and why?
- What are the benefits, risks, and side effects of these treatments?
- How will my normal routine change during treatment?
- Should I apply for any bladder cancer clinical trials?
Last, take a deep breathe
Being newly diagnosed with bladder cancer can be stressful. Feel empowered knowing that you are taking meaningful steps to find the best urologist for you. Would you like to talk to others in the bladder cancer community about their experience finding a new urologist? Reach out in our forums.
Have you talked to your doctor about navigating sex with bladder cancer?