Doctors examine the inside of the bladder through a procedure called a cystoscopy. During a cystoscopy, a doctor inserts a thin lighted instrument called a cystoscope into the bladder through the urethra. A cystoscopy to examine the bladder can be performed with local anesthesia in an office. A cystoscopy with transurethral resection to get a sample (biopsy) or remove tumors is typically done with general anesthesia. People who have a cystoscopy can usually go home the same day.
Some people with bladder cancer may need to have a biopsy. This involves taking a small sample from the bladder and examining it for cancer cells. A pathologist looks at the sample under a microscope to make a diagnosis. Our pathologists are highly skilled at analyzing samples to accurately identify bladder cancer subtypes and determine the stage of bladder cancer.
For early-stage bladder cancer, doctors may be able to remove the entire tumor using cystoscopy alone. This is especially likely for people with urothelial bladder cancer confined to the inner tissues of the bladder (stages 0 and I).