Tests after bladder cancer diagnosis

Doctor talking to a male patient

After your diagnosis your doctor may want you to have more tests to find out more about your cancer:

  • How large is the cancer?
  • Where exactly is the cancer?
  • Has the cancer spread to any other parts of your body?

This is called staging. Staging tests for bladder cancer include:

  • CT scan: A special type of X-ray to give a picture of the tissues inside your body
  • Cytoscopy: A small tube with a light passed into your bladder to look at the bladder lining. This is usually done to diagnose bladder cancer, but you may have one later in in your treatment. 
  • Biopsy: Taking a sample of the bladder tissue. You usually have a biopsy during a cystoscopy as part of diagnosing your cancer. You may also have a biopsy after diagnosis. For example, you may have a biopsy and exam under general anaesthetic if the first biopsy sample was very small. Or the surgeon may take a sample of tissue during surgery to make sure all the cancer has been removed.
  • MRI scan: This is a scan that uses magnetic energy to build up a picture of the tissues inside your body. 

Other tests 

These tests are not usually used for non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer. 

  • Bone scan: Using a radioactive injection that will show up any cancer spread to the bones on a scan picture. 
  • PET scan: Using a radioactive injection that will show up any cancer spread to other parts of your body on a scan picture. 
  • Ultrasound: A device like a microphone passed over your tummy to check for blockages between the bladder and kidneys.

Staging is important as it helps your medical team decide on the best treatment for your cancer. Read more about how bladder cancer is staged.

For more information

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