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Further tests for bladder cancer

 Men and women discussing bladder cancer

This page tells you about tests you may have if you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer. You can find information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Further tests for bladder cancer

If tests show you have bladder cancer, your specialist will ask you to have further tests at the hospital.

Intravenous urogram

This is an X-ray to look at the whole of your urinary system, to make sure the rest of it is healthy. It is sometimes called an IVU or IVP.

CT scan of the urinary tract

You may have a special computerised tomography (CT) scan called a CT urogram. This creates three dimensional pictures that show the whole urinary system.

Tests if you have invasive bladder cancer

If your cancer has grown into the bladder wall (invasive bladder cancer), your specialist may ask you to have a scan. This is to see whether the cancer has spread to another part of your body. You will have a CT scan and you may have an MRI scan, a bone scan, an ultrasound scan or a PET scan.

After the tests

You may feel very anxious while you are waiting for the test results. It may help to talk to a close friend, a relative or your specialist nurse about how you feel. Or you may want to contact a cancer support group to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Diagnosing bladder cancer section.

 

 

Why you need more tests

If your tests show that you have bladder cancer, your specialist will ask you to have further tests at the hospital.

If you have early bladder cancer, you may not need to have any more tests. But if you have not already had one you may have an intravenous urogram (IVU) (also called an intravenous pyelogram) or a computerised tomography urogram (CTU). These tests make sure that any blood in your urine is coming from the bladder and nowhere else in your urinary tract.

If you have invasive bladder cancer, your specialist will want you to have one or more of the tests below tests to check whether the cancer has spread into nearby lymph nodes or other organs close to the bladder. Your specialist will need to know this before it is possible to decide on the best treatment for you.

 

CT scan

You may have a CT scan to check whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. There is information about having a CT scan in the section on cancer tests.

 

MRI scan

An MRI scan uses magnetism to build up a picture of the inside of the body. You may have this scan to check whether the cancer has spread. MRI scans are particularly good for looking at the soft tissues of the body. MRI scans of the pelvis can be useful in helping your surgeon to assess whether a particular operation is suitable for you. We have detailed information about having an MRI scan.

 

Bone scan

Your specialist may ask you to have a bone scan to check whether the cancer has spread to the bones. We have information about having a bone scan.

 

PET scan

This is a type of scan that shows how active cells are. Cells that are very active use a lot of energy and this can show up on a PET scan. You may have one if your doctors are not sure, after your other tests and scans, whether the cancer has spread. You may need to go to another hospital to have your PET scan. We have information about having a PET scan.

 

Glomerular filtration rate test (GFR test)

You may have this test to measure how well your kidneys are working and how quickly they remove waste products from the blood. You have an injection that contains a dye. Then you have a number of blood samples taken over a few hours to show how well the kidneys are filtering out the dye. You may have this test if you need chemotherapy treatment.

 

After the tests

You will be asked to go back to the hospital when your test results have come through. This is may take a little time, even if only a day or two. You may feel very anxious during this time.

While you are waiting for results it may help to talk to a close friend, a relative or your specialist nurse about how you feel. Or you may want to contact a cancer support group to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience.

If you think talking to other people in a similar situation will help, you could look at our bladder cancer organisations to find organisations that offer help and support. To find people to share experiences with online, you could use Cancer Chat, our online forum.

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Updated: 21 October 2013