Tests for bladder cancer
Physical examination - the rectum (back passage) in men and the vagina in women is examined to feel for any obvious abnormalities.
Urine tests - a urine sample can be tested using a dipstick to check for blood in the urine. The sample is sent to the laboratory for microscopic examination. This is to check for infection (microscopy & culture) and abnormal cells (urine cytology) in the urine.
Blood tests - a series of blood tests are done to check general wellbeing and kidney and liver function.
Cystoscopy - this involves the urologist looking into the bladder with a thin, flexible tube which has a camera to allow the bladder to be visualised and any abnormalities photographed. This is usually done under local anaesthetic but a general anaesthetic may be required if it is necessary to take biopsies (tissue samples) of any abnormal areas. The samples are sent to a histopathologist to examine them for cancer.
Ultrasound scan - this is a non-invasive, painless test in which sound waves are used to build up a picture of the internal organs. An ultrasound can be used to check that the kidneys are draining. It can also show whether there are any obvious abnormalities within the bladder and that the bladder is emptying completely.
CT scan (computerised tomography) - this is a non-invasive test in which a series of x-rays are taken to build up a 3D image of the internal organs. A dye is sometimes used to enhance the images. A CT scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvis is usually taken to check the extent of the cancer within and outside of the bladder.
Chest x-ray - this is used to check the health of the lungs and heart.
Bone scan - this scan is taken a few hours after an injection of a mild radio-active substance which is absorbed by abnormal areas within the bones. It is used to check for spread of cancer into the bones.