How We Diagnose Bladder Cancer

City of Hope uses several different tests to detect bladder cancer:
  • Physical exam and history
  • Urinalysis: This is a test to check the color of urine and its contents such as sugar, protein, blood and bacteria.
  • Intravenous pyelogram: A procedure in which dye is injected into a vein in the arm, travels through the body and collects in the bladder, which allows it to show up on X-rays.
  • CT or CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan: This procedure uses a computer connected to an X-ray machine to obtain detailed pictures of areas inside the body. A dye may be used to help visualize organs or tissues more clearly.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): MRI creates a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, using the combination of a powerful magnet, radio waves and computer imaging.
  • Cystoscopy: This procedure looks inside the bladder and urethra to check for abnormal areas. A cystoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is guided through the urethra into the bladder. Tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.
  • Biopsy: This is the removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope to check for signs of cancer. A biopsy for bladder cancer is usually done during cystoscopy. It may be possible to remove the entire tumor during biopsy.
  • Urine cytology: With this test, a pathologist will examine the cells found in the urine that are shed by the lining of the bladder.
  • Chest x-ray: An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.