Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects that you may have bladder cancer, several methods are used to help make a diagnosis and to determine if your cancer has spread to other parts of your body.

Microscopic Urinalysis

Testing your urine will help rule out infections. It will also help determine if there is blood (hematuria), sugar, bacteria, or proteins that should not be present.

Urine Cytology

This testing of your urine helps to identify cancerous cells. It is often combined with fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH) or protein tests to identify bladder cancer. 

Physical Exam

A doctor will examine your rectum—and, for women, vagina—to feel for bumps that may indicate cancerous tumors. 


A urologist uses a cystoscope (a thin camera inserted through the urethra) to examine your bladder. The cystoscope can also be used to take a tissue sample to help determine the type and stage of the cancer. 

Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor

If the cystoscopy reveals abnormal tissue in the sample, your doctor may remove the tumor and take samples from other parts of the bladder muscle. From these samples, a pathologist will determine what type of cancer you have and how deeply it is in the bladder muscle.

Imaging Tests

Tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, computed tomography (CT) scans, X-rays, ultrasounds, and bone scans can help the doctor determine whether the cancer has spread outside the bladder.