Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

There are several different types of tests for bladder cancer. After reviewing your medical history and doing a basic medical exam (which may include a rectal or vaginal exam), your doctor will most likely perform one of the following:

Urine Cytology
A urine sample is taken and examined under a microscope for cancerous or precancerous cells.

Urine Culture
A urine sample is taken and cultured to look for bacteria and signs of infection.

During this procedure, your doctor will insert a small tube with a lens and light into the urethra to look for any abnormalities.

Intravenous Pyelogram
Contrast dye is injected into the bloodstream and x-rays are taken of the bladder, kidneys and ureters.

CT Scan
This is a series of x-rays put together by a computer to create more detailed images of the inside of the bladder.

This test uses magnetic waves to create pictures of the inside of the bladder. 

A picture of the bladder is created using sound waves.

Bone Scan
A computer and special gamma-ray detector are used to examine the bones if your doctor suspects the cancer has spread.

Your doctor removes a small sample of bladder tissue to test for cancer cells.


If you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, staging will help determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. The following staging classifications are used to identify how and where bladder cancer has spread:

Stage 0
Cancer cells are only found on the surface of the inner lining of the bladder.

Stage 1
Cancer cells are found deep in the inner lining of the bladder, but no lymph nodes are involved.

Stage 2
Cancer cells have spread to the muscle of the bladder, but no lymph nodes are involved.

Stage 3
Cancer cells have spread through the muscular wall of the bladder to the layer of tissue surrounding the bladder—or possibly to the reproductive organs, including the prostate glands—but no lymph nodes are involved.

Stage 4
Cancer cells extend outside the bladder to the wall of the abdomen or pelvis without any lymph nodes involved, or the cancer has spread to one or more lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

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