My Typical Cystoscopy
When you are told you need to have a cystoscopy, it can be quite terrifying. Inserting an endoscope into your bladder with a camera on the end, while awake, scared me to death. I was practically shaking when I went in for my first one. Now, almost two years later, it is more of a nuisance and temporary uncomfortableness. Here is my experience with each scope.
Giving a urine sample
I arrive at my Urologist's office, and the nurse takes me in immediately to give a urine sample. I am then asked to wait in the waiting room. After a urinalysis is run to ensure I don't have a bladder infection, I am called backed to the treatment room.
I am left alone to strip from the waist down and sit on a table with a sheet over me. The nurse comes back in.
(The following may be too graphic of a description for you - warning).
Beginning the procedure
She then has me lay down on the bed with stirrups, feet way up in the air. She applies a topical numbing agent and then calls in the doctor. He comes in, puts on his sterile gown and gloves, and begins the procedure. He inserts the catheter, and I am able to look up over my shoulder and see the screen/camera. I can feel the scope moving inside me, and I can see the images on the screen. We are able to view my ureters as urine is entering my bladder. The urologist asked me immediately, "Do you take vitamins?" I answered, "Yes, why?" He stated that people who take vitamins and/or supplements tend to have darker urine, and he could see it coming right from my ureters - it was a dark color. The screen is clear, shiny, pink flesh, until...
The tumors look much bigger than they actually are
There are those strange looking things. It is magnified and intensified so that the tumors actually remind me of mushrooms. I also reminded me of coral waving in the oceans. Of course, they look much bigger than they actually are, so that is when my doctor usually begins calming me down. The nurse and the Urologist are the only two people in the room, so they want to make sure you remain calm and don't tense up.
Removing tumors with the TURBT procedure
He then pulls out the scope, and we are done. IF tumors are found, I am scheduled for a TURBT procedure to remove the tumors.
The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) describes the TURBT procedure as an "'incision-less' surgery usually performed as an outpatient procedure. It is the first-line surgical treatment for bladder tumors...Attached to a scope is a small, electrified loop of wire which is moved back and forth through the tumor to cut and remove the tissue... One of the advantages of this procedure is that it can be performed repeatedly with minimal risk to the patient and with excellent results."
If it is clear, I go back once a week for 3 weeks to get BCG (preventative) and then schedule my next cystoscopy in three months.
Overall, the procedure is what I would call painless but very uncomfortable. I usually have a bit of stinging for 24 hours each time I urinate. Sometimes, not always, I get bladder spasms, for which I take over-the-counter AZO (greatest investment you can make if you have bladder cancer). My Urologist gave me a prescription for Oxybutrin to stop the spasms; however, it causes me to become dehydrated so I don't take it unless I am desperate.
So, it is going into my third year since my initial diagnosis, and I am a bladder cancer survivor with continued treatment.
How well does your healthcare provider understand your bladder cancer?