Bladder Cancer Testing & Screening

If you suspect you have bladder cancer, your doctor will often begin by taking a thorough medical and family history. A physical exam may help your doctor identify any bladder tumors. There are numerous tests a doctor may perform when determining whether or not you have bladder cancer. 


For this simple test, a doctor will take a sample of the urine to check for blood and other substances. 

Urine Cytology

For this simple test, a doctor will take a sample of urine and examine it under a microscope to see if there are any cancer or pre-cancer cells. While this test can be helpful, it does not always catch all cancers. Other tests should be performed to confirm an accurate diagnosis.

Urine Tumor Marker Tests

This test can be used with a urine cytology to help determine if a patient has bladder cancer. This urine test looks for specific substances released by the bladder. Some of these substances include: the bladder tumor-associated antigen (BTA), the mucin and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), and the NMP22 protein. The presence of these substances may indicate you have bladder cancer.

Blue Light Cystoscopy

For this procedure, your doctor will place a cystoscope through the opening of the urethra where it is pushed up into the bladder. A cystoscope is a small, thin tube that has a light on the end. Your doctor will expand the bladder with some sterile salt water so they can examine the inside lining of your bladder. A light-activated drug that is absorbed by cancer cells is injected into the bladder. When your doctor shines a blue light through the cystoscope, any cancerous cells will light up.  


A small tissue sample may be taken if an abnormal area of the bladder is seen during the cystoscopy. This tissue will be tested to confirm if the cells are cancerous. Samples from numerous areas of the bladder may be taken since bladder cancer can sometimes develop in more than one area of the bladder.