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Bladder Cancer - Exams and Tests

To find out whether bladder cancer may be the cause of your urinary symptoms, your doctor will:

  • Do a physical exam. This may include a rectal exam, a prostate exam for men, or a pelvic exam for women.
  • Ask questions about your medical history, including:
    • Your smoking history.
    • Your possible exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
    • Your family history of cancer.
  • Order a urine test and urine culture to check for the presence of blood, infection, and other abnormal cells. A urine test may also be done to look for tumor markers, which can be signs of cancer.

Cystoscopy

You will have a cystoscopy, a test that allows your doctor to look at your bladder with a thin, lighted tube. The doctor can use the same tube to take small tissue samples (biopsies) of any abnormal areas. The samples will be looked at under a microscope to find out whether cancer cells are present and what the cells look like.

Tests to determine stage and grade

Bladder cancer is classified by stage and grade. The stage is determined by the cancer growth in the bladder wall and how far it has spread to nearby tissues and other organs, such as the lungs, the liver, or the bones. The grade of bladder cancer is determined by how the cancer cells look in comparison with normal bladder cells.

Your doctor finds out the stage and grade of your bladder cancer by gathering information from several tests, including:

Knowing the stage and grade of your cancer is important in choosing the right treatments.

Other tests

Other diagnostic tests that may be done include:

Early detection of returning cancer

Bladder cancer often comes back, so it's important to have regular checkups. Then, if the cancer does come back, you have a better chance of finding it early enough for successful treatment.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 30, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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