Using urine testing for early detection of bladder cancer
When bladder cancer is detected early, it can significantly increase the chances of survival. In such cases, it can be successfully treated.
Bladder cancer screening
Screening involves using tests to look for the disease in patients with no symptoms of bladder cancer. Presently, routine screening is not recommended for bladder cancer, and the reason is that screening tests do no reduce the risk of developing and dying from the disease.
However, some doctors recommend screening people with high-risk cases, and they include:
- Individuals who have had bladder cancer in the past.
- Individuals who have congenital disabilities of their bladder.
- Individuals who are exposed to harmful chemicals at work.
Tests for bladder cancer diagnosis
Some tests that are used to diagnose bladder cancer look for cancer cells and other substances in urine. The tests include:
Urinalysis: checking for blood in the urine is a way to test for cancer of the bladder. This is also called hematuria. It is done during a urinalysis, and the test is a common checkup test for general health.
Non-cancerous conditions like infections may cause the presence of blood in the urine. However, it can also be a telltale sign of bladder cancer. Blood in the urine can be spotted when the urine turns red or pink. A urinalysis is needed for smaller amounts of it in the urine.
In most cases urine testing helps detect bladder cancer on time and cure it.
Types of tests
Urine cytology: during urine cytology, the doctor uses a microscope to search for the cancer cells in the urine. This method finds some cancers, but isn’t reliable as a screening test for bladder cancer.
Tumor markers urine test: many new tests search for substances in urine that could point to bladder cancer. Some of them are:
BTA tests: the BTA test looks for bladder tumor-associated antigen in the urine.
UroVysion: here, chromosomal changes are checked as they are seen in most bladder cancer cells.
Immunocyt: the test examines urine cells for substances like carcinoembryonic antigen or mucin as they are also found in cancer cells.
NMP22 BladderChek: here, protein or NMP22 is looked for in the urine. This protein is found in people with bladder cancer.
Most of these tests detect bladder cancer early but are not definite. In some cases, the test may produce false-negative results. Currently, these tests are used for people who are already showing symptoms of cancer or those who have undergone surgery to remove bladder cancer to check for recurrence.
Monitoring possible symptoms of cancer of the bladder
As noted earlier, screening tests are not recommended for average-risk individuals. Cancer of the bladder can be spotted early as it shows as blood in the urine as well as other urinary symptoms. Less severe problems may cause some of these symptoms, but it is safer to see a doctor and treat them as soon as possible. If bladder cancer causes the symptoms, early detection is the best chance to manage it successfully.