Sunday, January 13, 2008

How to Learn About the Bladder Cancer Diagnosis Process


Bladder cancer occurs when tumors grow on the lining of the bladder and the surrounding tissue. Common symptoms include blood in the urine and difficulty urinating. If you suspect you have bladder cancer, learn about the bladder cancer diagnosis process before and after you visit your doctor.


Difficulty: Moderate



Step One

Start by visiting major cancer-related Web sites such as those belonging to the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society (see "Resources" below). These sites can give you an overview of bladder cancer diagnosis methods in layman's language.

Step Two

Take bladder cancer screening test if you are at high risk for bladder cancer. People at high risk include smokers, those over 65 and those who work with certain chemicals used in dyes. White males get bladder cancer more often than women and African-American men.

Step Three

Learn the major symptoms of bladder cancer, which are blood in the urine and noticeable changes in urination habits. These symptoms by themselves do not constitute a diagnosis of bladder cancer, but they do indicate that you should see a doctor immediately.

Step Four

Understand that imaging tests may be used to diagnose bladder cancer. You may already be familiar with some types of imaging tests such as X-rays, ultrasounds and MRIs.

Step Five

Learn about cytoscopy. This procedure allows your doctor to look at your bladder with a lens and a light while you are anesthetized. Your doctor may also order a biopsy, in which cells are taken from the bladder for analysis.

Step Six

Get a physical exam. If you have symptoms of bladder cancer, your doctor may physically check for the presence of a tumor. He may also order tests, such as a urine culture, to determine if your symptoms are caused by an infection rather than a tumor.

Step Seven

Ask your doctor about follow-up visits, whether you are diagnosed with bladder cancer or not. People with frequent urinary tract infections may be at greater risk for contracting bladder cancer. Your doctor may advise that you return for further tests within a certain period of time.

Step Eight

Make lifestyle changes. Quit smoking if you smoke. Drink plenty of fluids and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Whether you are diagnosed with bladder cancer or not, these changes can make you healthier and reduce your risk of contracting many types of diseases.

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