COVID-19 has drastically changed the landscape for patients with bladder cancer, but the new challenges are not insurmountable. CURE had the chance to interview the co-founder of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network to discuss these changes.
There are as many approaches to bladder cancer treatment as there are types of the disease. But for patients who are struggling with treatment decisions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the key lies in constant communication with their healthcare team, says one expert.
CURE® recently spoke with Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network co-founder Diane Zipursky Quale about the challenges that patients with bladder cancer are currently facing because of the pandemic, and how doctors are working with patients to come up with solutions on an individual basis.
For bladder cancer patients and their families, just like any cancer patients — or actually anybody else dealing with a non-COVID disease – this is an incredibly challenging time. Bladder cancer requires a lot of surveillance. And so, depending on what kind of bladder cancer you have, what stage is your disease and what kind of treatment is involved, there are a lot of questions and there are a lot of challenges right now.
Some patients need to see their doctors on a regular basis to be scoped, to see whether or not their cancer has returned. Some patients are getting treatment, maybe intravesical treatment into their bladder that has to be done on a weekly basis. There are patients that are getting chemotherapy. And all of this has changed during COVID because there’s a risk/benefit analysis you have to make. Do you go to see your doctor? Do you go to the hospital for that scope at a time where things might not be quite as safe or as comfortable as they were in non-COVID times?
So, what this requires is really a close relationship with your healthcare provider and having them talk with you about this risk/benefit analysis. There are many times that treatment can be delayed without impact on your prognosis and your health. But there are other times and other patients that treatment needs to happen now. But I think that most hospitals, as well as outpatient clinics and doctors’ offices, have taken all of the requisite steps to make sure that their patients are not unduly exposed to the risk of COVID when coming in for their treatments.
Again, this is why you need to talk with and have a good relationship with your medical team. They’re coming up with really creative and new ways and types of treatment that they can do during the time when surgery is not yet allowed. So, there are a lot of really interesting things going on, and a lot of helpful things going on.