How seeking a second opinion meant I was able to have bladder preserving treatment – Colin Webber

“I was able to reach a decision about my treatment in an informed way, with a surgeon who I trusted and who listened to me. I've been able to continue the quality of life I very much wanted.”
Colin Webber, bladder cancer patient

Colin Webber, aged 58, from Peterborough, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Mr Webber had bladder preserving treatment, rather than a radical cystectomy, or removal of the whole bladder.

“When I started a new job, I was offered a medical and they found a small amount of blood in my urine. It was sent off for tests and I was told there was nothing to worry about, but then I would be asked to have more tests. After a few months, I became fed up with having repeated tests and asked for a referral to a specialist.

“I had a further sample analysed for cytology just before I was due to go on holiday. When I came home, there was a message from the doctor asking me to contact him and you immediately feel it won’t be good news. I did think ‘why me?’ Ninety-five per cent of bladder cancer is related to smoking and I’ve never smoked, or worked in the chemical industry, which is the other known cause.

“When I was seen at my local hospital for a cytoscopy, the view was that a radical cystectomy and prostatectomy was the only option. I had a type of bladder cancer called Carcinoma In Situ (CIS) which is the most aggressive type of the disease and it had spread within the bladder. I also had papillary tumours one of which was close to the wall of the bladder, in a divitriculum, which is a difficult location to reach and there was a danger of causing damage during surgery.

“I was very concerned about the risks and consequences of a radical cystectomy and went to a large specialist hospital for a second opinion. It is a centre of excellence and every time I went to hospital, I was seen by a different surgeon. None of the surgeons could guarantee that they would carry out my operation but it was important to me to know who would be treating me and build up trust in them. I felt like I was just a number in the system. Again, they would only consider a radical cystectomy including the removal of the prostate.

“A friend recommended Mr Doherty because of his reputation for nerve-sparing prostate surgery and I found that he also treated bladder cancer. Mr Doherty was the first doctor (surgeon) who was prepared to really listen to my concerns about a cystectomy and discuss alternative options. By this stage, I had carried out a lot of my own research on the internet to find out as much as possible about my condition and my options. With Mr Doherty, I was finally able to have a proper, full discussion about risks and advantages. Together, we made decisions about treatment based on percentages, so I was certain about the course I was taking.

“I had a course of BCG injections, which is a type of immunotherapy introduced directly into the bladder. It is an established treatment for the type of bladder cancer I had, carcinoma in situ.

“Mr Doherty found the cancer had not spread following the BCG treatment and all the papillary tumours had been removed surgically with telescopes.

“Now, more than three years since my diagnosis, I’m playing golf and enjoying exactly the same things I was able to do before having bladder cancer. My PSA levels are regularly checked and have been consistently normal and I have an MRI scan every six months. All this time, Mr Doherty has always been available whenever I need him, which is very important.

“I was able to reach a decision about my treatment in an informed way, with a surgeon I trusted and listened to me and have been able to continue the quality of life I very much wanted.”