Urethral cancer

Urethral cancer

The most uncommon type of urological cancer is urethral cancer. This type affects only 1 or 2 persons out of every 100 cancer patients. It affects more men than women. Some persons with urethral cancer have no symptoms, but the majority of them do. This article will provide you with additional information about urethral cancer, including how it is identified and treatment choices.

Cancer is caused by mutated cells that proliferate uncontrollably. The aberrant (changed) cells frequently develop to create a lump or mass known as a tumour. Cancer cells can also infiltrate (grow) into neighbouring locations. They also have the potential to spread to other places of the body. This is referred as as metastasis.

Urethral carcinoma is a form of cancer that begins in the urethra and is extremely rare. This tube is responsible for removing pee from your body. The urethra in women is roughly 1.5 inches length. It extends from the bladder to a point above the vaginal entrance. The urethra in men is around 8 inches long. It travels from the prostate to the tip of the penis, passing through the prostate and the penis (glans).


Risk factors for urethral cancer

A risk factor is anything that may increase your chance of having a disease. The exact cause of someone’s cancer may not be known. But risk factors can make it more likely for a person to have cancer. Some risk factors may not be in your control. But others may be things you can change.

Because urethral cancer is so rare, it’s been hard for healthcare providers to find risk factors for the disease. These are possible risk factors for this cancer:

  • Older age
  • Long-lasting (chronic) irritation or inflammation of the urinary tract because of repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Certain diseases, such as urethral diverticulum, polyps, or urethral caruncle in women and urethral strictures in men
  • History of bladder cancer
  • HPV (human papillomavirus) infection or history of other STIs


Symptoms of urethral cancer

Urethral cancer can be difficult to detect in its earliest stages. That’s because some people will experience no symptoms until the cancer is more advanced.

Primary symptoms

As the cancer grows, both males and females may begin to notice these symptoms of urethral cancer:

a growth or lump near or on the urethra
pain or bleeding when urinating
difficulty emptying the bladder

Additional symptoms

Additional symptoms include:

  • frequently urinating or feeling the need to urinate without passing urine
  • low flow or dribbling when trying to urinate
  • discharge or bleeding from the urethra
  • trouble passing urine
  • urinary incontinence (or an inability to control urine)
  • enlarged lymph nodes in the groin, near the tumor


Diagnosis of urethral cancer

People are frequently treated first for other issues. It could be a urinary tract infection or BPH in men (benign prostate hyperplasia). When standard therapies fail, your doctor may suspect urethral cancer. You could be referred to a urologist. This is a healthcare professional who specialises in treating urinary system issues.

Your doctor will inquire about your medical history, symptoms, risk factors, and disease history in your family. They will do a physical examination. A digital rectal exam may be performed on men. A pelvic exam will be performed on the women. These tests are used to check for tumours in the area of the urethra.

You may also have 1 or more of these tests:

  • Urine tests
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound
  • Endoscopy exams (cystoscopy or ureteroscopy)
  • CT scan
  • Biopsy

A biopsy is the only way to confirm cancer. Small pieces of tissue are taken out and checked for cancer cells.

After a diagnosis of urethral cancer, you’ll likely need other tests. These help your healthcare providers learn more about the cancer. They can help determine the stage of the cancer. The stage is how much and how far the cancer has spread (metastasized) in your body. It is one of the most important things to know when deciding how to treat the cancer.

Once your cancer is staged, your healthcare provider will talk with you about what the stage means for your treatment. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider to explain the stage of your cancer to you in a way you can understand.


Treatment of urethral cancer

The type of urethral cancer you have, where it is in the urethra, your gender, test results, and the stage of the disease all influence your treatment options. The purpose of treatment may be to cure you, control the cancer, or alleviate cancer-related difficulties. Discuss your treatment options, treatment goals, and potential risks and side effects with your healthcare team.

There are two types of cancer treatments: local and systemic. Local treatments target a single location to eliminate, destroy, or regulate cancer cells. Local therapies include surgery and radiation. Systemic therapy is used to kill or control cancer cells that have spread throughout your body. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that is given as a tablet or an injection. You may receive a single treatment or a series of treatments.

Urethral cancer may be treated with:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy


Surgery is the most common treatment for urethral cancer. During surgery, a doctor can remove the tumor from either inside the urethra or from outside. They may also remove nearby lymph nodes if they’re impacted by the cancer.

Radiation therapy

This treatment targets and destroys cancer cells with beams of intense energy from outside your body. Radiation therapy can be used alone, but it’s frequently used with surgery or chemotherapy.


These anti-cancer drugs can be used prior to surgery to shrink the tumor and decrease the extent of surgery needed to treat the cancer. Chemotherapy can also be used after surgery to prevent the disease from coming back or if the cancer has spread beyond the primary tumor site.


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  • January 10th, 2022

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