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Cytoscopy for bladder cancer

What is cytoscopy?

A cytoscopy can be used to carefully examine the entire bladder area. For this procedure, your doctor will likely use a cytoscope, which is a thin, lighted tube that can be inserted through the urethra and into the bladder. A small lens or video camera is attached to the tip, so that your doctor can see inside. Sterile salt water is injected through the cytoscope, which expands the bladder, making it easier to examine.

The initial cytoscopy is usually done in a doctor’s office and patients are offered local anesthesia to numb the urethra and bladder. When a more general anesthesia is needed, the cytoscopy will be done in an operating room.

Cytoscopy for bladder cancer

If your doctor sees an area with abnormal cells, a biopsy will be done to remove tissues for closer examination. To obtain a sample of tissue from inside the bladder, a thin instrument is inserted through the cytoscope. Collecting saltwater washings from inside the bladder can also help your doctor examine cancer cells inside the bladder.

Sometimes, your doctor will perform a fluorescence cytoscopy alongside the standard cytoscopy. During this test for bladder cancer, medicines known as porphyrins are inserted into the bladder. These drugs are readily absorbed by cancer cells, and cause the cells to glow, or fluoresce, under a blue light. This process enables your doctor to see any areas of the bladder where there are cancer cells that may have been missed during the routine cytoscopy.

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