Screening for Bladder Cancer

Screening is a way to evaluate people without symptoms to determine if they are at risk for cancer or have already developed cancer. Screening involves:

  • Assessing your medical history and lifestyle habits that may increase or decrease your risk of bladder cancer
  • Using tests to identify early signs of bladder cancer

Screening Guidelines

There are no official screening guidelines for bladder cancer. Testing is only recommended for people who are experiencing symptoms that may suggest bladder cancer. People who smoke should be advised to stop. They should also be informed of their increased risk of bladder cancer and other serious disease.

Some experts think that people with a higher-than-normal risk of bladder cancer should be periodically screened. These include the following groups of people:

  • Heavy smokers
  • People who have worked in jobs that exposed them to known bladder cancer-causing agents
  • People who have previously had bladder cancer
  • People with certain birth defects of the bladder

If you are at increased risk, you may be advised to have periodic testing:

  • Urinalysis—testing of a sample of your urine to check for the presence of blood
  • Urine cytology—microscopic examination of a sample of your urine to look for the presence of cancer cells
  • Cystoscopic examination—examination of the inside of your bladder using a tiny, fiberoptic tube with a light on the end that is passed through your urethra and into your bladder

Screening is not 100% effective in diagnosing or excluding cancer. If you develop symptoms that suggest cancer, even after a negative screening test, you should contact your doctor for an evaluation.

Revision Information

  • Bladder cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladdercancer/ . Accessed June 5, 2013.

  • Bladder cancer. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=100 . Updated March 2013. Accessed June 5, 2013.

  • US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for bladder cancer. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website. Available at http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsblad.htm . Updated August 2011. Accessed June 6, 2013.

  • What you need to know about bladder cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/bladder . Updated August 30, 2010. Accessed June 5, 2013.