May 24, 2024

Care Provider Profile:  Dr. Rahul Bansal Talks Bladder Cancer Care

Dr. Rahul Bansal is a urologic surgeon at St. Joe’s and an associate professor of urology at McMaster University. Born and raised in northern India, Dr. Bansal’s path to urology started close to home since his grandfather was diagnosed with bladder cancer in his fifties and sadly passed from the disease. This experience motivated Dr. Bansal to pursue urology as a specialty. We interviewed Dr. Bansal in May – Bladder Cancer Awareness Month in Canada. In the sidebar at left, you can read more about this disease, its signs, and symptoms. 

“Bladder cancer is a treatable disease in its early stages, but treatment backlogs from the pandemic and limited access to primary medical care have caused some people to seek help much later than before the pandemic,” Dr. Bansal explains. 

Here at St. Joe’s, we care for a large number of bladder cancer patients per year and provide endourological and intravesical treatment for patients in the early stages of the disease. Practicing at an academic health sciences centre with a vibrant research enterprise, Dr. Bansal is also enrolling patients in a clinical trial for high-grade, non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer. He is hopeful that new innovative treatment options will help to prevent the recurrence of the disease in bladder cancer patients.

“I chose to study at McMaster and work at St. Joe’s because I wanted to work with Dr. Anil Kapoor – a renowned uro-oncologist and kidney transplant surgeon who sadly passed away last year,” he explained. When Dr. Bansal was recently presented with a miracle worker pin to commemorate his first nomination by a grateful patient, he fondly remembered the one worn by his mentor. “I used to admire Dr. Kapoor’s pin when I trained at St. Joe’s, and now I have my own. It really means a lot to me to be recognized for providing exceptional care.” 

Since returning full-time to St. Joe’s Urology department in 2022, Dr. Bansal has been leaving his own mark. “I believe in providing care with compassion…in the value of patients feeling connected to their healthcare team,” said Dr. Bansal. “I always take that extra step for my patients. It’s important to me as a person, and to the St. Joe’s mission, too.” 

Dr. Bansal’s patients are noticing his compassionate approach. Not only did Dr. Bansal receive a second miracle worker nomination this spring he also received a surprise gift of a life-like portrait of himself, painted by one of his grateful bladder cancer patients from memory. 

“I was truly moved when I received it. It was a complete surprise.” 

Dr. Bansal’s work in bladder cancer is making its mark at St. Joe’s. 

During May, Bladder Cancer Awareness Month in Canada, we chatted with Dr. Rahul Bansal, a urologist at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, to understand the most common signs of bladder cancer and when to see your doctor. 

“The most common symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine,” says Dr. Bansal. “It’s a really obvious sign that’s hard to ignore.” Blood in the urine can appear yellow-red, bright red or rusty-red, and can sometimes be accompanied by other symptoms such as: 

·A frequent or intense need to urinate 

·Difficulty urinating, or a painful or burning sensation when urinating

·Back, pelvic and/or groin pain

Dr. Bansal’s Top Tip: Don’t wait for pain or let embarrassment stop you from calling your doctor. 

Several conditions could cause blood in urine including bladder or urinary tract infections, an enlarged prostate, kidney stones and more. Remember, seeing blood doesn’t necessarily mean a cancer diagnosis, but it is important to consult your family physician. The earlier an infection or disease is diagnosed, the more treatable it’s likely to be.

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