The next stage is an examination of the inside of your bladder with a cystoscope – a thin tube with a camera and light at the end. The cystoscope is introduced via your urethra, the tube through which you urinate; to save discomfort a local anaesthetic gel is applied to your urethra, and to help the cystoscope to slide in more easily.
It is not painful and is usually safe, but it can be a little uncomfortable. However, you may notice a little blood in your urine, which should last no more than 24 hours.
If a cystoscopy reveals abnormalities inside your bladder, the next stage is to take a sample of bladder tissue for further testing. This is a biopsy, which may be carried out under general anaesthetic using a procedure known as transurethral resection of a bladder tumour (TURBT).
If the results of your biopsy show cancerous cells in the lining of your bladder, you may need further tests to show whether the cancer has spread beyond the lining of your bladder.
These tests can include a computerised tomography (CT), before which you may be given an injection or drink of dye to highlight abnormal areas. Another possibility is an intravenous (IV) urogram; this time the dye is injected into your bloodstream and X-rays are used to study the blood as it passes through your urinary system.
Staging and Grading
Once the tests have been completed, it should be possible to tell you how far the cancer has already spread and how likely it is to spread.
Read more about Staging and Grading here on our Somerset Urology website.