|This section on urologic cancers includes:
The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen that
stores urine. The kidneys filter waste from the blood and produce urine, which enters the
bladder through two tubes called ureters. Urine leaves the bladder through another tube,
the urethra. In women, the urethra is a short tube that opens just in front of the vagina.
In men, it is longer, passing through the prostate gland and then through the penis.
The most common warning sign of bladder cancer is blood in
the urine. Pain during urination can also be a sign of bladder cancer. A need to urinate
often or urgently may be another warning sign.
To diagnose bladder cancer the doctor will perform a
physical examination. Sometimes the doctor can feel a large tumor during a rectal or
The doctor may order an x-ray called an intravenous
pyelogram (IVP) which lets the doctor observe the kidneys, ureters, and bladder.
Another diagnostic tool is looking into the bladder with an
instrument called a cystoscope. A thin, lighted tube is inserted into the bladder through
the urethra. If the doctor sees anything abnormal tissue samples can be obtained through
the cystoscope. A biopsy of this tissue will determine if bladder cancer is present.
Treatments can include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation
or a combination of these. See our list of resources.
return to top
The kidneys are part of the urinary tract. They are a pair
of organs found just above the waist on each side of the spine. As blood flows through the
kidneys, they filter waste products, chemicals, and unneeded water from the blood. Urine
collects in the middle of each kidney and then is drained to the bladder where it is
The most common symptom of kidney cancer is blood in the
urine. Another symptom is a lump or mass that can be felt in the kidney area. The tumor
may cause a dull ache or pain in the back or side. Less often, signs of a kidney tumor
include high blood pressure or an abnormal number of red blood cells.
Diagnostic tests can include blood and urine tests, an IVP
(intravenous pyelogram), a CT (or CAT) scan, an ultrasound, an arteriogram, MRI, or a
nephrotomogram (a series of x-rays of cross sections of the kidney).
Treatments will depend on the size of the tumor and the
general health of the patient. Treatment can include surgery, embolization, radiation,
hormone therapy, biological therapy, or chemotherapy or a combination of these.
Most kidney cancer patients have surgery to remove the
In embolization, a substance is injected to clog the renal
blood vessels. This stops the blood supply to the tumor which causes it to shrink. Surgery
sometimes follows embolization. Read through our list of resources.
return to top
The prostate gland is part of the male
reproductive system. It's small, about the size and shape of a walnut. It's located in
front of the rectum, below the bladder, and is wrapped around the urethra. The prostate is
made up of muscle and glandular tissues. It's main function is to produce the fluid which
carries sperm cells.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in
men; it is estimated that 1 out of every 9 men will develop prostate cancer in their
lifetime. The risk grows higher with age.
Very early prostate cancer usually has no
symptoms which is why it is so important for all men to have regular check-ups with their
personal care physician or urologist. Early detection can make a substantial difference in
the treatment options and cure rate of prostate cancer. Some symptoms of prostate cancer
which may develop include weak or interrupted flow of urine; difficulty in urinating;
inability to urinate; frequent need to urinate; blood in urine or semen, continuing pain
in the lower back.
Diagnostic procedures will usually include a
digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen blood test (PSA). If either or
both of these tests suggest to your medical team that prostate cancer may be present
additional tests may be ordered including biopsies.
Treatment options include surgery, radiation,
chemotherapy, hormone therapy or a combination of these. Take a look at our list of resources for additional reading
return to top
The testicles (also called testes or gonads) are the male
sex glands. They are located behind the penis in a pouch of skin called the scrotum. The
testicles produce and store sperm, and they are also the body's main source of male
hormones. These hormones control the development of the reproductive organs and other male
characteristics, such as body and facial hair, low voice, and wide shoulders.
Testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers in
young men between the ages of 15 and 34. The disease also occurs in other age groups so
all men should be aware of its symptoms.
Symptoms can include:
- A lump in either testicle
- Any enlargement of a testicle
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
Diagnosing testicular cancer will include a complete
physical examination along with a chest x-ray and blood and urine tests. If the exam and
lab results don't show an infection or other disorder the doctor is likely going to
The only definitive diagnosis is to examine a sample of
tissue under a microscope. The tissue to be examined may be obtained by removing the
affected testicle through the groin.
If a man has testicular cancer it is important to find out
whether it has spread from the testicle to other parts of the body. This is discovered
through a variety of tests which may include CT (or CAT) scans, intravenous pyelography
(IVP), or lymphangiography (x-rays taken with a special dye. Ultrasonography may also be
Decisions about treatment for testicular cancer are
complex. Sometimes it's helpful to have more than one doctor's advice. The patient may
want to ask to see a doctor who specializes in testicular cancer.
Treatments can include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy
or a combination of these. Look through our reading
materials for additional resources.
return to top
Almost without exception, cases of kidney cancer in
children are Wilms' tumor. It is thought that this type of cancer starts in immature cells
that normally would become mature renal (kidney) cells.
There is no unique symptom for Wilms' tumor. The most
common sign is a lump in the belly, or a swollen abdomen. Blood in the urine occurs in
about 25% of patients but in most cases the blood is in such small amounts that's it's not
visible with the naked eye
If you are aware of anyone in your family or your partner's
family who has had Wilms' tumor you should alert your child's pediatrician.
Diagnosis begins with a physical examination and medical
history of the families. X-rays are always used to confirm a suspected diagnosis. An
ultrasound may also be ordered.
If these tests are inconclusive, another kind of x-ray
called selective renal arteriography can tell the doctor whether Wilms' tumor exists.
Wilms' tumor is one of some 20 cancers for which treatments
have been developed combining surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. The way in which the
three treatment methods will be used depends on the patient's medical history, age,
general health, and the stage of the disease. We have identified a couple of good resources for additional information.
return to top
[ Home ] [ Specific Cancers ] [ Diagnosis ] [ Treatment ] [ Coping ] [ Disclaimer ][ Breast ] [ Colorectal ] [ Gynecological ] [ Head and Neck ] [ Leukemia ] [ Lung ] [ Urologic ] [ Other ]
material for this page excerpted from NIH documents