To diagnose bladder cancer, your doctor completes a thorough medical history and examination. You will then be referred to a urologist, a physician who has special training in managing diseases of the bladder.
The first test the urologist may perform is a cystoscopy. During a cystoscopy, the urologist will pass a cystoscope (a fiber-optic lighted tube) through the urethra in order to view the bladder. A urine sample for cytology will be obtained and a brush biopsy will be performed, a combination approach that increases the probability of an accurate diagnosis.
If the doctor sees anything unusual during the cystoscopy, like a tumor, a tiny tissue sample is taken through the tube and examined in the laboratory. The doctor should also perform a bimanual examination to determine if there is a mass that can be felt and whether the bladder is mobile or fixed. Should a tumor be malignant, the treatment will depend on how far, if at all, the cancer has spread.