by EBSCO Medical Review Board

The doctor will ask about symptoms, past health, and family health history. The belly, pelvic, vaginal, and rectal areas will be checked. Testing will help narrow down the cause of the problems.

Suspicion of Bladder Cancer

Tests may include:

Urine Tests

This will look for blood, infection, or other abnormal cells in the urine.

Other tests will show where the abnormal cells are from. They could be from the bladder or another part of the urinary system.

Blood Tests

Blood tests will look for:

  • Tumor markers
  • Certain proteins
  • Markers and proteins may be higher than normal if there is cancer.

    Imaging Tests

    Imaging tests help look for tumors. They can also help find their size and where they are. Some tests use contrast agents to highlight structures. This makes them easier to see. Imaging may include a:

    Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer

    A bladder biopsy is done during cystoscopy. A small scope is passed through the urethra and into the bladder. Contrast may be used to make the cancer easier to see. Tissue samples are taken and looked at in a lab. This is the only way to make a diagnosis.

    Staging of Bladder Cancer

    Test results and new tests will help find the stage of cancer. Staging is used to tell the tumor type. This helps with planning treatment. Staging can tell:

    • How far the original tumor has spread
    • Whether lymph nodes are involved
    • If cancer has spread to other tissue
    • Details about the cells

    Bladder cancer is staged from 0 to 4.

    • Stage 0—Carcinoma in situ —Cancer is in the inner lining of the bladder.
    • Stage 1 —Cancer cells are found in the bladder’s deeper tissues. But they are not in the bladder’s layer of muscle or any lymph nodes.
    • Stage 2 —Cancer cells have spread to the bladder’s muscles, but not in any lymph nodes.
    • Stage 3 —Cancer cells have spread through the muscle wall of the bladder. The cells have also spread to the layer of tissue surrounding the bladder. Or, the cells might have spread to reproductive organs. No lymph nodes are involved.
    • Stage 4 —Cancer cells have spread to the lining of the abdomen and/or pelvis. There may be cancer cells in lymph nodes. The cancer may have spread to distant organs, such as the liver, lungs, or bone.
    Stages of Bladder Cancer
    Stages of Bladder Cancer
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    Bladder cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Accessed March 30, 2022.

    Bladder cancer diagnosis and staging. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed March 30, 2022.

    Stages of bladder cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Accessed March 30, 2022.

    Tests for bladder cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed March 30, 2022.

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