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Urethral Cancer

This rare form of cancer can affect both men and women. In fact, more women than men are diagnosed with urethral cancer. Cancer of the urethra affects the narrow tube that allows urine from the bladder in both sexes and semen in men to flow to and exit the body. The urethra in females is located anterior to the vagina. The male urethra passes through the prostate gland and the penis before exiting.

The exact cause is unknown, but risk factors include:

  • Sexually transmitted disease especially human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • Urethral structural disease in men where the urethra is scarred and narrowed restricting flow
  • Chronic urinary tract infection or diverticulum (outpouching) in women

Symptoms vary:

  • No symptoms may appear at first
  • A mass or growth may appear in the urethra
  • May have pain or bleeding on urination
  • Urination may become difficult due to the narrowed urethra that is restricting urine flow

Diagnostic testing by an AUCNY urologist may include:

  • Detailed history and physical examination – requesting details on symptoms, personal and family medical history, social history including smoking habits, physical examination with special emphasis on the bladder area including rectal/pelvic exam and urine/blood tests
  • Cystoscopy – using a narrow “tube-like” camera under local anesthesia to visualize the urethra for abnormal tissue or masses
  • Chest x-ray, bone scan, CT, MRI, PET scan – imaging procedures to the presence, extent, size, and location of tumors including possible spread past the initially involved organ
  • Biopsy – taking a portion of tissue for the pathologist to determine the presence, extent of abnormal cells and the degree of abnormality

The diagnosis of urethral cancer needs to be differentiated from other non-cancerous conditions such as:

  • Sexually transmitted disease or caruncle
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Urethral stricture or diverticulum (outpouching)

Treatment Options

Urethral cancer is a rare form of cancer that can affect both men and women. In fact, more women than men are diagnosed with urethral cancer. If you are diagnosed with urethral cancer, your AUCNY doctor will perform diagnostic testing to determine the treatment that is right for you.

Treatment methods options may include:

  • Surgical procedures to remove the local tumor or entire organ with or without lymph node exploration. Females and some males frequently require adjunctive cystectomy as well as urinary diversion
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy – our associates at Advanced Radiation Centers of New York (ARC) work closely with our AUCNY doctors to provide state-of-the-art treatment options to treat urethral cancer. With eight conveniently located facilities, there is an ARC facility close by that you can trust to provide the state-of-the-art care you need.

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Urological Conditions & Treatments

Urological Cancers & Treatments