Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer

Diablo Valley Oncology joins with urology practice to form first group of its kind in CCC. Visit Pacific Urology for more information.

Pacific Urology


Bladder cancer may cause these common symptoms:

  • Finding blood in your urine (which may make the urine look rusty or darker red)
  • Feeling an urgent need to empty your bladder
  • Having to empty your bladder more often than you used to
  • Feeling the need to empty your bladder without results
  • Needing to strain (bear down) when you empty your bladder
  • Feeling pain when you empty your bladder


If you have symptoms that suggest bladder cancer, some or all of these tests may be advised to confirm the diagnosis:

Urine tests: The lab checks your urine for blood, cancer cells, and other signs of disease.

Cystoscopy: Your doctor uses a thin, lighted tube (a cystoscope) to look directly into your bladder. It may be done at your doctor’s office. This test can be uncomfortable because the doctor will insert the cystoscope into the bladder through your urethra. You may need local anesthesia for this test.

Biopsy: Your doctor can remove samples of tissue with the cystoscope. A pathologist then examines the tissue under a microscope. The removal of tissue to look for cancer cells is called a biopsy. In most cases, a biopsy is the only sure way to tell whether cancer is present.


If bladder cancer is diagnosed, your doctor needs to learn the extent (stage) of the disease to help you choose the best treatment. Following tests may be done to find out the extent of the disease.

  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • IVP
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound

These are the stages of bladder cancer:

Stage 0: The cancer cells are found only on the surface of the inner lining of the bladder. The doctor may call this carcinoma in situ.

Stage I: The tumor has grown deeper into the inner lining of the bladder. But it hasn’t invaded the muscle layer of the bladder.

Stage II: The tumor has invaded the muscle layer of the bladder.

Stage III: The tumor has grown through the muscle layer to reach tissues near the bladder, such as the prostate, uterus, or vagina.

Stage IV: The tumor has invaded the wall of the pelvis or abdomen, but cancer is not found in any lymph nodes. Or, the cancer cells have spread to at least one lymph node or to parts of the body far away from the bladder, such as the liver, lungs, or bones.

Read more: Treatment of Bladder Cancer

If you have symptoms associated with bladder cancer, contact us to request an appointment with our oncology specialists to to begin diagnostic testing.