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Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

In order to diagnose bladder cancer, your doctor will need to perform a physical exam, ask about your personal and family history, and recommend additional tests and procedures that examine the bladder. The exams and tests that are used to make a diagnosis include urine tests, intravenous pyelogram, and cystoscopy with biopsy.

An Introduction to Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

If a person has possible bladder cancer symptoms, the doctor will need to perform a physical exam, ask about the patient's personal and family medical history, and recommend additional tests and procedures that examine the bladder.
 

Physical Exam and History

During the physical exam, the doctor will feel the abdomen and pelvis for tumors and may perform a rectal or vaginal exam. The medical history will include questions about the patient's health habits and a family history of any medical conditions, past illnesses, and treatments.
 

Exams and Tests

The exams and tests that are used to diagnose bladder cancer may include:
 
  • Urine tests
  • Intravenous pyelogram
  • Cystoscopy with biopsy.
     
Urine Tests
For a urine test, the laboratory will check the urine for blood, cancer cells, and other signs of disease.
 
Intravenous Pyelogram
During an intravenous pyelogram (IVP), the doctor will inject dye into a blood vessel. The dye will collect in the urine and make the bladder appear on the x-rays.
 
Cystoscopy With Biopsy
During a cystoscopy, the doctor will use a thin, lighted tube (known as a cystoscope) to look directly into the bladder. The patient may need anesthesia for this procedure. The doctor can remove samples of tissue with the cystoscope to look for cancer cells. This procedure is called a biopsy.
 
After the biopsy, a pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope. In many cases, a biopsy is the only sure way to tell whether cancer is present. For a small number of patients, the doctor will remove the entire cancerous area during the biopsy. For these patients, the cancer is diagnosed and treated in a single procedure.
 
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Bladder Cancer Information

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