Urologic cancer at a glance
- Urologic cancer occur when cells grow out of control and cancerous tumors form in the organs of the urinary tract of men and women or in the male reproductive system.
- Urologic cancer commonly affect the kidneys, bladder, prostate or testicles.
- Most urologic cancers are treatable with conventional or minimally invasive surgery; other treatments options include radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
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Overview of urologic cancer
Urologic cancers are malignant growths (tumors) formed in the organs that are located within the urinary tract of a man or a woman. They are also found in the testicles, prostate or penis of the male reproductive system. These tumors are caused by the abnormal division of cells.
The urinary tract generates and stores urine and is made up of the kidneys, the ureter (tubes that transfer urine from the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder and the urethra (the tube that transfers urine from the bladder and dismisses it from the body).
Urologic cancers typically cause such symptoms as pain, noticeable lumps, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and blood in the urine. Many urologic cancers are curable if they are caught early, so a person experiencing these symptoms should see a physician right away.
Much like other forms of cancer, urologic cancers are often treated by surgically removing the tumor(s). Other therapies such as radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy can be used in addition to surgery, or in place of it completely.
For certain conditions doctors may recommend using robotic surgery, such as da Vinci, to remove tumors in a minimally invasive manner. These procedures allow patients to have a shorter hospital stay, reduced pain and less recovery time.
See below for specific information about the various types of urologic cancers that we treat.
Approximately 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year. Fortunately, the majority of kidney cancers are discovered in their early stages. This is a result of the frequent use of abdominal ultrasound exams and CT scans.
Traditional surgery or robotic surgery are the most common treatment plans for kidney cancer. This specific type of cancer is usually not responsive to standard radiation or chemotherapy, so these options are rarely used to treat kidney cancer.
Bladder cancer is more common in men than women, though it is possible in both. Its most common symptom is the occurrence of blood in the urine. This is one of the reasons why urine tests are regularly performed by primary care doctors during yearly physical exams.
The most common treatment for bladder cancer is a minimally invasive procedure called trans-urethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT). TURBT shaves the tumor from the bladder wall and allows doctors to analyze its type and depth. These results sometimes require further treatment, including chemotherapy.
Many people believe that prostate cancer is only possible in men, but 0.0003 percent of women develop it in their female prostate gland (Skene duct) as well. Prostate cancers come in various types and stages, from very slow growing to very fast growing. These stages are classified by the Gleason score, a scale based on the cancer’s appearance, followed by a prostate biopsy. The two grades are added together to determine the Gleason score.
Prostate cancers are often treated with radical prostatectomy, which is total removal of the prostate. However, some men are not healthy enough for this procedure or prefer other options, such as radiation therapy or hormone therapy.
The Prostate Cancer Center of Excellence
Pacific Urology and Diablo Valley Oncology/Hematology have joined to create The Prostate Cancer Center of Excellence, the most comprehensive initiative for prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment in the Bay Area.
Testicular cancer is only possible in men because women do not have testicles. It is a rare type of cancer that tends to occur in men under the age of 40. Testicular cancer usually begins with almost no symptoms and can often go undiagnosed until a lump or abnormality in the testicle becomes noticeable.
Testicular cancer is considered to be highly treatable by surgical removal of the affected testicle. This surgery is relatively minor, and the patient can usually go home the same day.