Bladder cancer "coaches," or people who have gone through treatment for the disease, may help current patients cope with their diagnosis and manage treatment, said a health researcher from Baylor College of Medicine.

"Because medical information can be complex, doctors may have difficulty relaying information about treatment procedures in a way that their patients understand," said Dr. David Latini, assistant professor in the Scott Department of Urology at BCM. "As a result, patients can misinterpret information about their condition and treatment options."

The standard imaging procedure for bladder cancer, known as the cystoscopy, is very invasive and frequent, and many patients do not remain adherent, said Latini, also an assistant professor in the NCI-designated Dan L Duncan Cancer Center at BCM and a member of the Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. "There can be a heavy psychological burden to bear."

Depending upon the stage of the cancer, patients may also need further treatments, including removal of the bladder and prostate (males) or uterus (females).

Latini said coaches can help patients better understand the stages of bladder cancer and required treatment for each. "Some patients cannot understand the severity of their cancer, and have a hard time comprehending their course of treatment."

Myths about being contagious and spreading the cancer to others is not uncommon, Latini said. "Some are scared to have sex with their partners out of fear for spreading the cancer."

"There are a lot of 'unknowns' for bladder cancer patients," said Latini. 
"Coaches can help patients understand what they're going through."