Diagnosis & staging
These are tests that may be used to diagnose this type of cancer.
- Vaginal or rectal examination will be performed.
- Urinalysis – a lab technician looks at your urine sample with a microscope to see if bladder cancer is there. This test is also used to see if bladder cancer has come back, since these tumours tend to recur. They check the urine for microscopic amounts of blood (urinalysis) and check for cancer cells (urine cytology).
- The urine cytology test examines cells that the bladder wall or the tumour have shed into the urine.
- Cystoscopy: A cystoscope is used to examine the bladder. This is a camera which goes up the urethra into the bladder. The doctor can use the cystoscope to snip off small samples of tissue, which are sent to the pathologist. Some cancers can be partially or totally removed using the cystoscope.
- IVP (intravenous pyelogram)
- A special dye is injected into the bloodstream passing into the urine, outlining the urinary system.
- CT scan:
- Cross section view of the organ; pinpoints the size and location of the tumour. This is used primarily to look for enlarged lymph glands.
For more information on tests used to diagnose cancer , see our Recommended Websites, Diagnostic Tests
Types and Stages
- Urothelial cancer (transitional cell) is the most common type.
- Bladder cancer can be described as either superficial or invasive. Superficial cancers are easier to treat and cure.
- Occasionally bladder cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, or adenocarcinomas or mixed cell.
- Superficial papillary tumours involve only the inner lining of the bladder (stages Ta and T1). They are usually low grade, which means they are less likely to grow and they spread more slowly.
- One type of superficial high grade disease is called carcinoma-in-situ. It is much more likely to behave aggressively, and may require cystectomy (removal of the bladder by surgery) if other treatments are not successful.
- More advanced tumours may go:
- into the superficial or deep bladder muscle (stages T2 and T3a).
- through the muscle (stage T3b).
- into other areas or organs (stage T4). These are usually high grade cancers and require radical treatment.
Staging describes the extent of a cancer. The TNM
classification system is used as the standard around the world. In general a lower number in each category means a better prognosis. The stage of the cancer is used to plan the treatment.
T describes the site and size of the main tumour (primary)
N describes involvement of lymph nodes
M relates to whether the cancer has spread (presence or absence of distant metastases).