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Bladder Cancer Symptoms & Diagnosis


Symptoms include:

  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Frequent urination, or feeling the need to urinate without being able
  • Painful urination
  • Lower back pain
  • Weight loss, bone pain, or abdominal pain in advanced cases

These symptoms may be caused by other less serious health conditions, such as bladder stones or infection. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your physician.


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. During the exam, your doctor will feel the abdomen and pelvis for abnormalities. The physical exam may include a rectal or vaginal exam.

Tests include:

  • Urine cytology—a sample of urine is examined under a microscope to look for cancerous or precancerous cells
  • Urine culture—a sample of urine is cultured to look for signs of infection (ie, bacteria)
  • Cystoscopy —a procedure in which a doctor looks into the bladder through the urethra using a cystoscope (a slender tube with a lens and light)
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) —x-rays of the bladder, kidneys, and ureters taken after contrast is injected into the bloodstream
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the bladder and surrounding structures
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the bladder and surrounding structures
  • Ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to examine the bladder
  • Bone scan—a type of gamma-ray that uses a computer and a special gamma-rays detector to make pictures of the bone if metastases is suspected
  • Biopsy —removal of a sample of bladder tissue to test for cancer cells

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2022 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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