Detection and Diagnosis

The most important first step in detecting bladder cancer is a physical exam. The physician examines the abdomen and pelvis for lumps or swelling. They may also conduct a rectal or vaginal exam.

If you are at risk for bladder cancer, or have been diagnosed, your physician may refer you to our multidisciplinary clinic. Here patients can conveniently interact with several specialists in one visit. 

Our team works together to provide an accurate diagnosis and to create the best treatment plan. When there are options, we will guide you in deciding which treatment pathway is right for you. Our multidisciplinary team includes:

  • Urologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Oncology nurses
  • Genetic counselors
  • Dietitians

Early diagnosis and treatment offer the best outcomes. Our advanced detection tools improve diagnosis and enhance treatment by providing information about how well a patient may respond to therapy. GW Cancer Center offers the following diagnostic tests for bladder cancer:

Cystoscopy: In this office-based procedure a doctor inserts a thin tube with camera and light through the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body (urethra) into the bladder. This allows them to see the inside of the bladder wall. If something appears abnormal, they may remove a tissue sample (biopsy) and test it to diagnose cancer. GW Cancer Center is the first in Washington, D.C. to offer:

  • Blue Light Cystoscopy with Cysview®. The special dye (Cysview®) is delivered into the bladder about an hour before the cystoscopy. The dye will be absorbed by cancerous tissue. Surgeons switch the cystoscopy scanner to a mode called "blue light" to help reveal hard-to-see tumors. This test increases the detection rate of bladder cancer, particularly in early stages, and reduces the rate of the cancer returning.

Genetic marker testing: These tests are used for patients who have some symptoms of cancer. They look for the presence of substances, like proteins, that are linked to cancer. GW Cancer Center offers:

Imaging studies: Studies, such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) take internal pictures of the body to detect cancerous growths.

Urinalysis: We will examine your urine under a microscope for the presence of blood, infection, or abnormal cells. Blood in the urine is often not visible to the naked eye.

Urine cytology: Using an advanced microscope, we examine a urine sample specifically for the presence of cancerous cells.