Bladder Cancer Cystoscopy

Bladder Cancer Cystoscopy

Urologic surgeon Guido Dalbagni

A cytoscopy lets MSK doctors look at the bladder and take a sample of a tumor. For early-stage cancer, bladder cancer expert Guido Dalbagni may be able to remove the entire tumor.

A cystoscopy (sis-TOS-koh-pee) is a procedure that lets your doctor look at your urethra, bladder, and the openings to your ureters. Your urethra is the tube that lets urine (pee) leave your body. Your ureters are the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder.


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The bladder and urinary system in a female body (left) and a male body (right)

The bladder and urinary system in a female body (left) and a male body (right)

We do a cystoscopy in 2 ways:

  • With a flexible smaller scope, usually under local anesthesia in your doctor’s office.
  • With a more solid scope that lets your doctor do biopsies or remove all of the bladder tumor. Usually, these procedures are done in an outpatient surgery setting. You probably will have anesthesia (medicine to make you go to sleep). Often, you go home the same day.

During your cystoscopy, you may also have a transurethral (TRANZ-yoo-REE-thrul) resection of a bladder tumor (TURBT). In this procedure, a bladder tumor is removed using a tool in the cystoscope.

Cystoscopy for Biopsy

During your cystoscopy, you may need to have a biopsy. This is a procedure to take a small sample of tissue to look for cancer cells. Your bladder tissue sample will be sent to an MSK pathologist, a doctor who studies body tissues to diagnose diseases. They will look at the sample under a microscope to make a diagnosis. Our pathologists are experts at identifying bladder cancer subtypes and the stage of bladder cancer.

Cystoscopy for Early-Stage Bladder Cancer

Early-stage bladder cancer is known as stage 0 or 1. Urothelial bladder cancer is early stage when it’s only in the inner tissues of the bladder. Doctors may be able to remove the entire tumor during your cystoscopy.

Learn more about surgical options for bladder cancer.