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Urethral Cancer

Urethral cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the urethra. The urethra is a hollow tube that lets urine pass from the bladder, the organ that stores urine until ready for release, to the outside of the body. Urethral cancer is the rarest urological cancer. It can spread quickly to tissues around the urethra and is often found in nearby lymph nodes by the time it is diagnosed.

Urethral Cancer Symptoms

Some patients may notice a lump or growth on the urethra. Others may experience pain or bleeding when they urinate. If the tumour narrows or restricts the urethra, you may pass blood from the urethra or have trouble voiding.

Causes of Urethral Cancer

Urethral cancer is linked to the following conditions:

Urethral Cancer Diagnosis

A urologist will perform a physical exam to check the urethra, feeling for any abnormalities. Urine and blood tests may also be done. A cystoscopy procedure helps the doctor see the inside of the urethra. If something atypical is found in the procedure, a biopsy will be done. A tissue sample is then sent to the pathologist to look at under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, imaging and other tests may be ordered to see exactly where and how far the cancer has spread. These tests include:

  • CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis: to check the lymph nodes that collect drainage from the urethra
  • MRI: to look at the local extent of the tumour
  • Chest X-ray: to make sure that the tumour has not spread to the lungs
  • Bone scan: to see if it has spread to the bones

Urethral Cancer Treatment Options

  • Surgery is the most common treatment for urethral cancer. If the tumour has not grown into nearby tissues, it may be removed with a cystoscope. Local or radical surgeries are required to remove invasive tumours. Lymph nodes in the pelvis may also need to be removed.
  • Radiation therapy is done to destroy cancer cells. It may be used alone, with surgery, or with chemotherapy. It may allow you to keep your urethra and nearby organs.
  • Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is most often used when the cancer has spread to other organs or parts of the body. It may be offered before surgery or radiation. It can also be used after other treatments to help kill cells outside the zone targeted by the surgery or radiation.

Urethral cancer may come back after treatment. Follow-up visits to the urologist for physical exam, lab work, and scans are crucial to catch recurrence early.

Why should you choose Dr Colin Teo to perform urethral cancer treatment?

Dr Colin Teo is the Founding Head of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital’s Urology Department, with years of experience in minimally invasive keyhole surgery, operating with precision surgical techniques. Many fellows have trained under his mentorship. He did a Fellowship in EndoLaparoscopy and Andrology at St James’ Hospital in Leeds, UK and was sponsored for a Senior Healthcare Medical Development Program (HMDP) in Advanced Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgery at University of Southern California (USC) Keck Hospital in Los Angeles, USA.

Seek recommendations on suitable treatment options for urethral cancer with Colin Teo Urology. Contact us to book an appointment today.