How is Bladder Cancer Diagnosed?


If you have symptoms of bladder cancer, your doctor will ask about your health history, perform a physical examination, and discuss your risk factors with you. In addition, the following tests and procedures are often used to diagnose bladder cancer. These tests help determine the extent of cancer and allow your oncologist to assign it a stage.

  • Urine tests – These panels check for blood and other substances, infection, or cancer cells
  • Cystoscopy – A thin tube with a tiny light and camera on the end is inserted through the urethra, allowing your doctor to look inside the bladder for abnormal tissue
  • Imaging tests - Including MRI, X-ray, CT scans, and ultrasound, to look for tumors both within and outside the bladder. For some scans, a dye may be given to help see abnormalities more clearly.
  • Biopsy – A sample of tumor and muscle cells is removed from the bladder wall and examined under the microscope. This is done using transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT). Sometimes the entire tumor is removed by TURBT.

Tissue removed in a biopsy will be checked for cancer cells to diagnose bladder cancer. If cancer cells are found, they are assigned a grade based on how they compare to normal cells under a microscope.

  • Low-grade bladder cancer - Cells are not normal, but they look similar to healthy cells and are growing slowly
  • High-grade bladder cancer - Cells look very different from healthy cells and are growing more quickly than normal

How is Bladder Cancer Treated?


Treatment options for bladder cancer depend on the stage, type, and location of your cancer as well as your age, overall health, and personal preferences. At NewYork-Presbyterian, our multidisciplinary care teams of medical oncologists, urologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, and pathologists work together to determine the best treatment approach for you.

We offer advanced surgical and medical treatments for bladder cancer, including:

  • Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) - The same procedure for taking a bladder cancer biopsy can completely remove some early-stage tumors. A thin tube with instruments on the end is threaded through the urethra to the inside of the bladder for this surgery.
  • Cystectomy - Cystectomy is the surgical removal of the bladder to rid the body of cancer and help prevent it from coming back or spreading
    • In a partial cystectomy, the tumor and a small area around it are removed, the hole is stitched together, and the bladder remains in place. If cancer has penetrated the bladder wall or is in more than one area, the entire bladder must be removed.
    • In a procedure called radical cystectomy, surrounding organs are removed as well. These include the prostate and seminal vesicles in men and the ovaries and uterus in women. Different procedures allow you to pass urine after radical cystectomy.
    • With neobladder reconstruction and continent urinary reservoir, urine is held in an internal pouch
    • With an ileal conduit, an opening is created to allow urine to collect in an external plastic bag
  • Chemotherapy - These treatments use strong drugs or chemicals to destroy fast-growing cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be given through a vein as an intravenous infusion before or after surgery. Given this way, the drugs reach the whole body and can destroy cancer cells that have metastasized to places outside the bladder. For early-stage cancer that is confined to the bladder, chemotherapy drugs can be put directly into the bladder (intravesical chemotherapy). This may be done after TURBT to reduce the chances that the cancer will come back.
  • Radiation therapy - High-dose X-rays may be given at different stages of bladder cancer treatment depending on the type of bladder cancer, its location, and whether it has spread. Radiation therapy can destroy cancer cells, shrink tumors, and reduce the chances that cancer will spread.
  • Immunotherapy - Different types of immunotherapies boost the body’s immune system to help it fight early-stage bladder cancer. These drugs can have fewer side effects than chemotherapy.
  • Targeted therapy - These treatments work by attacking a weak point in the cancer’s ability to multiply. They may be given for advanced or metastatic bladder cancer.

In addition to treating your bladder cancer, at NewYork-Presbyterian we bring together clinicians from different specialties and departments to ensure that you are receiving care for your whole body and mind. As our patient, you are connected to hospital services that can help with all your medical needs, including managing side effects and nutrition.



Most bladder cancers are the low-grade, slow-growing type. However, by the time they are detected, half of them have already reached deep layers of the bladder or other parts of the body. Early diagnosis is the best way to slow or prevent the spread of bladder cancer.

Blood in urine is usually the first sign of bladder cancer.

Immunotherapy and targeted therapy drugs are the newest treatments for bladder cancer. Next-generation therapies and surgical approaches are being tested in clinical trials. Ask your care team if you are eligible to participate.

Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men. It is less common in women. Most people with bladder cancer are over age 55.

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Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Bladder Cancer Treatment

Schedule an appointment with NewYork-Presbyterian to evaluate your bladder cancer symptoms. Our multidisciplinary medical teams offer expert, compassionate care and access to the latest cancer treatments and therapies.