Ureteral cancer

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Ureteral cancer
Cystoscopy - Uretereal Cancer.jpg
A cystoscope showing a tumor in the ureters. Here it threatens to completely cut off flow to the ureters.
SpecialtyOncology Urology
SymptomsBlood in the urine

Ureteral cancer is cancer of the ureters, muscular tubes that propel urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder. It is also known as ureter cancer,[1] renal pelvic cancer,[1] and rarely ureteric cancer or uretal cancer. Cancer in this location is rare.[1][2]

Ureteral cancer is usually transitional cell carcinoma.[2][3] Transitional cell carcinoma is "a common cause of ureter cancer and other urinary (renal pelvic) tract cancers."[1]


Symptoms of ureteral cancer may include "blood in the urine (hematuria); diminished urine stream and straining to void (caused by urethral stricture); frequent urination and increased nighttime urination (nocturia); hardening of tissue in the perineum, labia, or penis; itching; incontinence; pain during or after sexual intercourse (dyspareunia); painful urination (dysuria); recurrent urinary tract infection; urethral discharge and swelling".[4]

Risk factors

Tobacco smoking is associated with an increased risk of ureteral cancer.[5]


example of an IVU radiograph
Example of an IVU radiograph

Diagnosis may include a fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) test, computed tomography urography (CTU), magnetic resonance urography (MRU), intravenous pyelography (IVP) x-ray, ureteroscopy,[6] or biopsy.


Treatment methods include surgery,[1][7] chemotherapy,[1] radiation therapy[1] and medication.[1]

After surgery to remove the tumor, a single dose of chemotherapy injected into the bladder is helpful in reducing the rate of cancer recurrence in people who have cancer of the inner lining of the bladder (upper tract urothelial carcinoma).[8] Serious side effects don't seem to be increased by chemotherapy.[8]


Between 1988 and 2001 in the United States, cancer surveillance reports to SEER included 1,333 cases of ureteral cancer in adults: 808 male and 525 female, 1,158 white and 42 black. Of the total, 1,251 (94%) were transitional cell carcinoma of the papillary type.[2] "Five-year relative survival rates from cancers of the ureter were similar among males vs. females..."[2]

See also

  • Ureteral neoplasm, a type of tumor that can be primary, or associated with a metastasis from another site
  • Urethral cancer, cancer of the urethra
  • Urothelium, the tissue layer that lines much of the urinary tract, including the renal pelvis, the ureters, the bladder, and parts of the urethra


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Ureter Cancer, Mayo Clinic
  2. ^ a b c d Ries LG, Young JL, Keel GE, Eisner MP, Lin YD, Horner MJ, eds. (2007), "Chapter 30: Cancers of Rare Sites", SEER Survival Monograph: Cancer Survival Among Adults: US SEER Program, 1988-2001, Patient and Tumor Characteristics, SEER Program, NIH Pub. No. 07-6215, Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute, pp. 251–262, archived from the original on 10 October 2013, retrieved 18 October 2013
  3. ^ Transitional Cell Cancer (Kidney/Ureter), National Cancer Institute
  4. ^ Urethral Cancer, Department of Urology, University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine
  5. ^ McCredie M, Stewart JH, Ford JM (July 1983). "Analgesics and tobacco as risk factors for cancer of the ureter and renal pelvis". The Journal of Urology. 130 (1): 28–30. doi:10.1016/s0022-5347(17)50936-2. PMID 6864908.
  6. ^ Ureter Cancer Diagnosis, Mayo Clinic
  7. ^ Ureteral Cancer, Fox Chase Cancer Center
  8. ^ a b Hwang EC, Sathianathen NJ, Jung JH, Kim MH, Dahm P, Risk MC, et al. (Cochrane Urology Group) (May 2019). "Single-dose intravesical chemotherapy after nephroureterectomy for upper tract urothelial carcinoma". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 5: CD013160. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD013160.pub2. PMC 6525634. PMID 31102534.

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