How to Test for Bladder Cancer


There are several techniques doctors use when testing for bladder cancer. Tests will also indicate the stage of the cancer. The first warning sign of the disease is usually blood in the urine.

The blood may even change the color of your urine to a pale yellowish-red or a darker red. Some people may not notice the blood in their urine, but small amounts will show up during testing.


How to Test for Bladder Cancer

Test for Bladder Cancer

1. Give your doctor a complete medical history to see if you are at risk for bladder cancer or are experiencing symptoms.

If the doctor suspects cancer, she will perform a physical examination, checking out the rectum and vagina to feel for a tumor.


2. Submit a urine sample so it can be examined under a microscope during what’s called a urine cytology.

This procedure will turn up cancerous or precancerous cells. In addition, a urine culture will rule out an infection, which can cause the same symptoms as bladder cancer.


3. Expect your doctor to recommend a cystoscopy if he suspects bladder cancer.

A urologist, who is a specialist in the urinary system, will perform the procedure in his office or the operating room. He will insert a flexible fiber optic tube with a light and a lens into your bladder, by way of the urethra.


4. Accept local anesthetic for a cystoscopy; it will numb your bladder.

If the doctor opts to use a spinal or general anesthesia, know that you have to go to an operating room.


5. Allow the doctor to do fluorescence cystoscopy while he’s doing the routine cystoscopy.

He will put substances called porphyrins into the bladder because they cling to cancer cells. When he shines a blue light through the cystoscope, the cells with porphyrins will glow, indicating where the cancer cells are located.


6. Get a biopsy if the bladder looks abnormal or if there is a growth present.

The piece of tissue will be examined with a microscope. The test will determine how much the cancer has progressed and how deeply it has penetrated the bladder wall, important factors in determining a treatment plan.


7. Know that your doctor may do bladder washings during the cystoscopy to look for cancer cells

He will put a salt solution into your bladder through a tube, then remove it for testing.


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