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UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

Your doctor will perform a physical exam, and ask you about your symptoms and risk factors. Your doctor may then perform one or more additional tests to diagnose your condition. These tests may include: 

  • Biopsy: In this procedure,  tissue is removed from the body and viewed with a microscope by a pathologist. The pathologist will be able to determine if the cells are cancerous, and the grade (severity) of any bladder cancer cells that may be present.
  • Bone scan: A test in which a small amount of radioactive material is injected into a blood vessel and travels through the bloodstream. It then collects in the bones and is detected by a scanner.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans: An x-ray scan of an area of the body allows physicians to obtain cross-sectional images to determine whether a soft tissue tumor has metastasized (spread) to other areas of the body.
  • MRI: Also known as Magnetic Resonance Imaging. A large machine that uses magnetics linked to a computer to take detailed pictures of your body. An MRI helps physicians distinguish between benign and malignant tumors, as well as showing the extent of tumor growth.  
  • PET scan: Also know as Positron Emission Tomography. A small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to take detailed computerized pictures of areas inside the body where the glucose is used. Because cancer cells often use more glucose than normal cells, the pictures can be used to find cancer cells in the body.
Last updated: 5/26/2010 2:40:00 PM