Urologic cancers are diagnosed and treated by urologists.
Urologists treat many conditions related to the urinary and male reproductive systems. Among these conditions are different forms of urologic cancers. Urologic cancers include: bladder, kidney, prostate, testicular, ureteral, urethral, penile, adrenal and upper urinary tract cancer.
Urologic Cancer overview
Bladder cancer is a urologic cancer in which cancerous cells grow uncontrollably within the tissues and layers of the bladder. It generally starts growing on the inside of the bladder (bladder lining). Over time, it can grown to penetrate into deeper layers of the bladder. The deeper it permeates, the more difficult it can become to treat. There are several different types of bladder cancer, with the most common form being urothelial carcinoma or transitional cell carcinoma.
Bladder cancer is more common in men, ranking as the fourth most common type of cancer among males. Typically, it is diagnosed in older adults, with 90% of patients being diagnosed after the age of 55. In fact, statistics indicate that the average age of diagnosis is 73 years old.
Bladder cancer risks
By far, smoking is the number one risk factor for developing bladder cancer. Other risk factors include:
- Family history / genetics.
- Workplace chemical exposure.
- Herbal supplements that contain aristolochic acid.
- Consuming large amounts of water that is contaminated with arsenic.
- Gender – males more prone to bladder cancer.
- Age – typically diagnosed in older adults.
- Race – whites have a higher incidence of bladder cancer.
- A long-term exposure to bladder irritants such as infections, catheter use, chemotherapy or radiation.
Kidney cancer begins in the kidneys, and like all cancers, has the capacity to move into other areas in the body. There are several different types of kidney cancers, with the most common being renal cell carcinoma. This type of cancer is also referred to as renal cell adenocarcinoma, renal cell cancer, or simply renal cancer. Statistics indicate that nine out of ten patients are diagnosed with renal cancer.
Similar to bladder cancer, kidney cancer generally affects older adults. Likewise, males are more often diagnosed with kidney cancer.
Kidney cancer risks
Smoking is a huge contributor to the development of kidney cancer. In fact, it is suggested that smoking can double the risk of developing this type of cancer. Additional risk factors include:
- Family history / genetics.
- Workplace chemical exposure.
- Gender – men are more prone to kidney cancer.
- Kidney disease that requires dialysis.
- Medications including over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Hepatitis C infection.
- Race – Native Americans and African Americans are at higher risk.
Prostate cancer is a common cancer among men that develops within the prostate gland. Current statistics indicate that one in seven men will develop prostate cancer sometime during their lives. It is recommended that men begin prostate cancer screening in their 50s. However, for men who have a family history of prostate cancer, or are African American, it is recommended that screening begins at 40. Screening starts with a PSA blood test, and a digital rectum exam.
Prostate cancer risks
Prostate cancer is a known hereditary cancer. In fact, the most important risk factor is close family history. Other risk factors include:
- Chemical exposure including Agent Orange during the Vietnam war.
- Chronic inflammation or infection of the prostate (prostatitis).
Testicular cancer is a cancer found in male testicles. This type of cancer is known as a young man’s disease since it is most prevalent in males between the ages of 15 to 35. Fortunately, when caught early, it is a very curable cancer. An important part of early detection is performing regular testicular self exams.
Testicular cancer risks
As noted, the most common risk factor for testicular cancer is age. Other risk factors include:
- Undescended testicle.
- Living in a western society such as the United States or Europe.
- Family history of testicular cancer.
- Having already had cancer in one of the testicles.
- HIV infection.
- Testicular trauma or injury.
The ureters are the small tubes that run between the kidneys and the bladder. Their primary purpose is to act as conduits for moving urine from the kidneys to the bladder for storage. Ureteral cancer is a disease that forms within the lining of the ureters.
Ureteral cancer risks
There are few recognized risk factors associated with this type of urologic cancer. Known risks include:
- Age – Ureteral cancer is generally diagnosed in older adults after 70.
- Having been diagnosed with either kidney or bladder cancer.
Urethral cancer is a form of cancer found within the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. This type of cancer is relatively rare.
Urethral cancer risks
Because urethral cancer is rare, there are very few definitive risk factors. Those that have been recognized include:
- Bladder cancer diagnosis.
- Inflammation in the urethra.
Penile cancer is a type of cancer that develops on the skin or tissues of the penis. For men living in North America and Europe, this is a relatively rare form of cancer. In reality, statistics indicate that only one in 100,000 American men are diagnosed with penile cancer each year. Of the different types of penile cancer, the most common is squamous cell carcinoma.
Penile cancer risks
There are several different risk factors associated with the development of penile cancer. Among these factors include:
- Infections such as HIV and HPV.
- Being uncircumsized.
- Genital warts.
- Poor genital hygiene.
- Family history.
The adrenals are glands that sit on top of each kidney. Adrenals are made up of two components: the cortex and the medulla, which have different functions. When cancer originates in the adrenals, it is commonly found in the cortex. However, research shows that adrenal tumors are oftentimes the result of cancer that has spread from another area within the body.
Not every mass that develops within the adrenal cortex is cancerous. With further examination and testing, the tumor may be diagnosed as Adenomas (a non-cancerous tumor), or Carcinomas (a cancerous tumor).
Adrenal Cancer Risks
Cancer that originates within the adrenal glands have few known risk factors. Some risk has been identified with the following:
- Genetics – very slight risk.
- Syndromes such as Multiple endocrine neoplasia, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Lynch syndrome, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, or Familial adenomatous polyposis.
If you have a family history of any urologic cancer, contact Urology Austin to schedule an appointment for evaluation.
Upper Urinary Tract Cancer
The Upper Urinary Tract consists of the renal pelvis (or kidney pelvis), ureters and renal calyces. Cancer in these locations is somewhat rare as statistics indicate that only a few thousand Americans are diagnosed annually.