Navigating Treatment Options for Advanced Stage Bladder Cancer

Metastatic or advanced stage bladder cancer is when cancer has spread to other parts of the body outside of the bladder like the lungs, liver or bones. There are several symptoms that are commonly experienced by people with metastatic bladder cancer, including:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent and/or difficult urination
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Need to urinate despite an empty bladder
  • Being unable to urinate
  • Lower back and abdominal pain
  • Swelling in the feet
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Bone pain

What are treatment options for advanced-stage bladder cancer?

When it comes to treating advanced-stage bladder cancer, your healthcare providers will work with you to develop a treatment plan and will consider several factors, such as where the cancer has spread in the body, your overall health, and the side effects of various treatments. Advanced stage or metastatic bladder cancer treatment may include

A combination of treatments may also be a possibility to treat your bladder cancer.

Gaining a better understanding of your treatment options

It can feel difficult and overwhelming to navigate what treatment options are best suited for you. It is important to know that you do have options when it comes to treating advanced-stage/metastatic bladder cancer. Try and do your own research; depending on where you are getting treatment, it is possible that your healthcare provider isn't aware of all options, including new to market treatments or clinical trials. From immunotherapy to surgery, it is important to have an open and honest conversation with your healthcare provider and, if it makes sense, your care partners about how different treatment options will impact your life.

Taking time to figure out a treatment path that works for you

Don't feel rushed into making a decision about your treatment plan or care. When you receive a diagnosis of advanced-stage or metastatic bladder cancer, you may feel scared, anxious and/or overwhelmed and may not be able to process all the information from your healthcare provider. It can be helpful to have your healthcare provider, a member of your healthcare team, or a care partner write down things for you and then have your healthcare provider take a look at your written notes to make sure you have all the information you need to review to make an informed decision. Ask about other resources or handouts that you can take and read at home or credible sources that you can reference online. This will allow you the time and space you might need to review your options.

Getting support throughout the journey

Navigating an advanced stage bladder cancer diagnosis and deciding on what your treatment path will be is helpful when you have supportive care. Supportive care may include services, information or programs to help you cope and navigate the physical aspects of advanced stage bladder cancer, the emotional aspects, and financial.

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