Diagnosing Bladder Cancer

Explore advanced bladder cancer treatment options available in China.

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Bladder cancer is a disease that starts in the bladder, causing symptoms like blood in urine and frequent urination. Detecting it early is crucial because it allows for better treatment options, improves prognosis, prevents progression, enhances quality of life, and enables effective monitoring and management of the disease.

Tests and procedures used to diagnose bladder cancer may include:

  • Medical History and Physical Examination: The doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and conduct a physical examination.

  • Urinalysis: A urine sample will be tested for the presence of blood, abnormal cells, or other signs of bladder cancer.

  • Imaging Tests: Imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, or intravenous pyelogram (IVP) may be used to create detailed images of the bladder and surrounding structures, helping to identify any abnormalities.

  • Cystoscopy: A cystoscope, a thin tube with a camera, is inserted into the bladder through the urethra to visually inspect the bladder lining for tumors or other abnormalities. Biopsy samples may also be taken during cystoscopy for further evaluation.

  • Biopsy: If suspicious areas are found during cystoscopy, a biopsy may be performed to collect tissue samples from the bladder for examination under a microscope to confirm the presence of cancer cells and determine the type and grade of bladder cancer.

  • Staging: If bladder cancer is diagnosed, additional tests such as imaging scans and possibly other procedures may be performed to determine the extent (stage) of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.

Determining the extent of the cancer

After confirming that you have bladder cancer, your doctor may recommend additional tests to determine whether your cancer has spread to your lymph nodes or to other areas of your body.

Tests may include:

  • CT scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Bone scan
  • Chest X-ray

Your doctor uses information from these procedures to assign your cancer a stage. The stages of bladder cancer are indicated by Roman numerals ranging from 0 to IV. The lowest stages indicate a cancer that’s confined to the inner layers of the bladder and that hasn’t grown to affect the muscular bladder wall. The highest stage — stage IV — indicates cancer that has spread to lymph nodes or organs in distant areas of the body.

Bladder cancer grade

Bladder cancers are further classified based on how the cancer cells appear when viewed through a microscope. This is known as the grade, and your doctor may describe bladder cancer as either low grade or high grade:

  • Low-grade bladder cancer. This type of cancer has cells that are closer in appearance and organization to normal cells (well differentiated). A low-grade tumor usually grows more slowly and is less likely to invade the muscular wall of the bladder than is a high-grade tumor.
  • High-grade bladder cancer. This type of cancer has cells that are abnormal-looking and that lack any resemblance to normal-appearing tissues (poorly differentiated). A high-grade tumor tends to grow more aggressively than a low-grade tumor and may be more likely to spread to the muscular wall of the bladder and other tissues and organs.

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