Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
woman walking along a path drawn by a pen

A Simple Guide to the First Few Weeks During Diagnosis

In those first few weeks/month after your bladder cancer diagnosis, you will be sent off for scans and blood tests, and it will all be a whirlwind. I’m going to try and explain, in simple language, what those scans and tests are for to help you prepare for the next steps…


Sometimes called a “sonogram” – this uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of your urinary tract (bladder, kidneys urethers). You will be asked to drink between 1-2 litres of water, usually an hour before and not to empty your bladder till after the scan. You will have a small amount of cold gel placed on the outside of your body where your bladder/kidneys are, they will use a hand held scanner and place this onto the gel. Images will come through on the monitor in the room. It can get little uncomfortable if your bladders full.

Flexible cystoscopy

This is usually done under local anesthetic, so you are normally awake. It doesn’t hurt, but is a little uncomfortable. A Consultant or a Specialist Nurse do this. A “Cystoscope” (long thin flexible tube with a camera on the end) is inserted into the urethra (tube that carries your pee out of your body) and into the bladder. As you are awake, you can see the inside of your bladder.

CT scan

This scan is able to take pictures of your insides, from all different angles. You may have contrast with it, which is where they insert a “dye” via a cannula. The dye will make you feel like you are having a hot flush throughout your body, and it may make you feel that you are peeing. This scan will show you whether the tumor is within the bladder or if it has gone through the bladder wall.

PET scan

This is where they will inject you with a radioactive material, via a cannula. You will then have to sit still for roughly an hour, and then the scan will begin. It usually takes between 25-30 minutes. It can be a bit claustrophobic, so if I were you I would take an eye mask with you. This scan shows the “cancer” cells as “light”. This scan shows where the cancer has spread, too.

As with all scans, you will not get the results on the day, the radiographer will produce a report and that will go to your Consultant/Oncologist.


You will have a Biopsy. This is where they will take a bit of your tumor and send it off to the lab. The purpose of this is to determine if it is cancer or a benign tumor, and if it is cancer, what type of cancer it is.

Once your cancer is confirmed, you will be told what “grade” or “stage” you are. This will then determine what type of treatment you receive and how much you have. You will talk all of this through with your Oncologist or Consultant.


This is done under a general anesthetic; basically, it is where the Consultant goes into the bladder and removes any tumors that are there. Depending on what they find, you may wake up with a catheter and have to stay in overnight. There is usually a little discomfort for few days, pain while peeing and twinges.

Every journey is different

Your healthcare team will want to make sure you are happy with the treatment going ahead, and they really are the best people to speak to about it. However tempting Dr. Google seems, try and stay away from him. You will only send yourself round the bend, and please try to remember that everyone’s journey is different, and we all respond in different ways.

Be prepared for things not to go as “planned”. You will need to be flexible; cancer isn’t predictable. Cancer can throw a wrench into things; just when you think your treatment plan is all organized, things can happen, and maybe your blood count is too low for chemo, maybe they need to send you for another scan or cystoscopy, it is all very frustrating, especially if it is holding up your treatment.

Online support

Websites like globally, and Fight Bladder Cancer UK are good places to find information. They have a wealth of information, specifically on experiences with Bladder Cancer. is an online community with articles written by Medical Experts, and it also has many people, like myself, sharing our personal stories and experiences. Fight Bladder Cancer UK is a small Charity, started by Andrew, who himself has Bladder Cancer. Both their Facebook pages help to support many sufferers and their family and friends in the UK and beyond.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • gsess
    6 months ago

    Had all of these except for the flexible cystoscopy. I had more test from ultra sounds to PET, CT Hearing (because of the chemo, 3x) and finally the Turbt. I had chemo before my bladder removal, not hard, but it almost killed me. Dehydration is a big concern. This was a period from May14 to Dec 14. The tests didn’t end with the removal of the bladder. It’s been a fun ride; 4 year 7 mos N.E.D.

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    5 months ago

    @gsess, that is quite a challenging group of diagnoses to live with. It sounds like you have been doing a great job of drinking lots of water and watching your carbs. I’m sure it’s tough to resist those tasty foods. You should feel proud of yourself! I admire your ability to keep that perspective about it all. How exciting that you’re coming up on 5 years. Take care, Sarah ( Team Member)

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    5 months ago

    @gsess, that must have been really scary to experience dehydration from chemo. How did you overcome it? Congrats on NED for 4 years. How have you been doing these days? -Sarah ( Team Member)

  • gsess
    5 months ago

    Keep drinking water. Never ever enough.because of the bladder cancer I also have stage 3/4 kidney disease. along with type 2 diabetes. Sounds terrible doesn’t it. Hey I’m still moving. The only bad things about Al this is I have to watch my carbs. You know I’ve cream, pizza, pasta, cannolis. You know all the good stuff. When they removed my bladder they also removed my prostrate. They told me I had the start of prostrate cancer. They were full of good news. I can not complain. I live each day to the fullest. Remember you only die once. Aug 8 will be my 5 year anniversary of diagnosis, 2 days later I hit 71. Jan 1 go for my exam. Hopefully I will make 5 years N.E.D

  • Poll