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Bladder cancer - how is it diagnosed?

Bladder cancer is detected by doing a cystoscopy. Often, other tests are needed such as scans and Xrays which help to get as much information as possible and make sure the correct treatments are given.


During a cystoscopy, a narrow tube is inserted through the urethra (water pipe) and into the opening of the bladder. This allows the inside of the bladder to be inspected for any abnormalities. If a problem is detected, you will be told straight away. Sometimes, samples are taken from the inside of the bladder (biopsies) to help make the correct diagnosis.

A cystoscopy is commonly perfomed under local anaesthetic. It is not usually painful, but some people find it uncomfortable when the cystoscope is put in. The procedure only normally takes a couple of minutes to perform.

Afterwards, there can be some burning when you pass water or occasionally a small amount of blood in the urine. These problems settle within a day or so. It is also possible to get a water infection, but this is not common. You can go home straight after the procedure and will not need any time off work afterwards.

If necessary, the procedure can be done under a general anaesthetic (asleep). This means you will need to stay in for a few extra hours afterwards, but most people can still go home on the same day.