Ways & How

how to test for bladder cancer

how to test for bladder cancer

Characteristically, bladder cancer occurs when a malignant tumor grows and multiplies in the bladder. According to cancer.org, it is a cancer that develops in the bladder tissues. Like all other diseases, early diagnosis is important so it can be treated successfully. Fortunately, there are useful medical measures on how to test for bladder cancer at an early stage just when the tumor is still small and has not yet spread to the surrounding tissues. As shown in cancer.gov, in the U.S. in 2012 there will be over 14,000 estimated death cases associated with bladder cancer, while there will be over 70,000 new, bladder cancer cases. This type of cancer is not a death sentence because it is very treatable. Early detection followed by proper treatments can increase the chances for a full recovery. Let us identify important procedures in testing for bladder cancer:

  1. Look for common signs and symptoms. Blood in the urine, frequent urination (polyuria), and pain during urination are indications of bladder cancer, although other disorders like kidney stones, prostate infection, and cystitis can manifest similar symptoms.



    The wisegeek.com emphasized that in a few cases, especially among women, the blood can make the urine look orange or pinkish signifying that something is wrong in the bladder. The blood in the urine may be gross hematuria (visible to the eyes) or microscopic hematuria (detectable by microscope). Since most of the symptoms may be similar to those of other diseases, it is necessary to consult a doctor.

  2. Submit for medical assessment. The first part of the assessment is an interview in which the doctor will ask questions about the patient’s medical history (past and present), work history, eating habits, and lifestyle. Based on the information supplied, the doctor can have an idea of the degree of risk for a bladder disorder. The second part of the assessment is a physical examination in which the doctor will insert a gloved finger into the vagina (in women), rectum or both to know the size of suspected tumor and see how far the mass has spread.

  3. Cystoscopy. This is a kind of endoscopy exam in which a narrow tube called a cystoscope that has a built-in light and camera is guided towards the urethra and then to the bladder to look for an abnormal tumor. The built-in camera sends images to an external video monitor allowing the doctor to view directly the bladder wall and examine signs of irregular cell formations. While the procedure is going on, the doctor can also perform other tests like bladder washing, fluorescence cystoscopy, and biopsy.

  4. Urine cytology. In this test, the doctor will analyze the patient’s urine using a microscope and determine the presence of cancer cells. To check for a urine infection, a urine culture may also be conducted. This test is not perfect, which means if no cancer cells are found, that doesn’t mean the patient is free from bladder cancer.

  5. Urinalysis. Although many doctors believe that a cytology test is more accurate in detecting bladder cancer, a urinalysis is still helpful. The procedure involves the collection of tests for suspicious substances in the urine such as protein, blood, and glucose (sugar). When there are abnormalities found, usually the doctor will recommend more definitive tests.

  6. Pyelography. Before the test, a special dye is injected into the patient’s vein (intravenous pyelography) or urethra (retrograde pyelography). The purpose of the dye is to highlight the organs in the urinary tract, particularly the areas that have abnormalities. Thereafter, a series of X-ray images are taken from the urinary tract.

  7. Biopsy. As indicated in emedicinehealth.com, during a cystoscopy, a sample of tissue is taken from the tumor. The sample is then examined by a pathologist in order to find out if the tumor is malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). In some cases, a fine needle biopsy is recommended in taking out a tissue sample.

Like all cancers, the patient’s chances of recovery are based on the stage of the bladder cancer. The staging analysis is based on the results of the biopsy and imaging procedures conducted on the patient. The procedures enumerated above on how to test for bladder cancer should help confirm the presence, extent, and stage of the disease. Each stage has a corresponding treatment regimen and a separate rate of chances for cure. Therefore, low-grade tumors are easier to address than the high-grade ones which are considered life-threatening.

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