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01/19/2022 Chris Preston
Cancer of the ureter (ureteral cancer) is an abnormal growth of cells on the inside lining of the tubes (ureters) that join your kidneys to your bladder. Ureters are part of the urinary tract, and they carry urine made by the kidneys to the bladder.
Ureteral cancer is unusual. It happens most often in older adults and in people who have previously been treated for bladder cancer.
Ureteral cancer is closely associated with bladder cancer. The cells that line the ureters are the same kind of cells that line the inside of the bladder. People diagnosed with ureteral cancer have a greatly increased risk of bladder cancer, so your doctor will suggest tests to look for signs of bladder cancer.
Treatment for ureteral cancer generally involves surgery. In certain situations, chemotherapy or immunotherapy might be suggested.
Signs and symptoms of ureteral cancer are:
Book an appointment with your doctor if you have any persistent signs and symptoms that worry you.
It is not clear what causes ureteral cancer.
Ureteral cancer occurs when cells on the inside lining of the ureter develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. A cell's DNA contains the information that tells a cell what to do. The changes tell the cells to multiply quickly and to continue living beyond their typical life cycle. The result is a growing mass of abnormal cells that could grow to block the ureter or spread to other areas of the body.
Factors that could increase the risk of ureteral cancer include:
Tests and procedures used to diagnose ureteral cancer are:
Ureteral cancer treatment generally involves surgery. Your treatment options for cancer of the ureter will differ depending upon the size and location of your cancer, how aggressive the cells are, and your own goals and preferences.
Surgery is usually recommended to remove ureteral cancer. The extent of your surgery will depend upon your situation.
For very early-stage ureteral cancer, surgery might involve removing only a part of the ureter. For more-advanced ureteral cancer, it might be necessary to remove the affected ureter, its associated kidney (nephroureterectomy), and a part of the bladder.
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancerous cells. Chemotherapy is occasionally used before surgery to shrink a tumor and make it easier to remove during surgery. Chemotherapy might be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that might remain.
For advanced ureteral cancer, chemotherapy might be used to control the signs and symptoms of cancer.
Immunotherapy uses your immune system to fight against cancer. Your body's disease-fighting immune system might not attack your cancer because the cancer cells produce proteins that help them hide from the immune system cells. Immunotherapy works by intruding with that process.
Immunotherapy may be an option for treating advanced ureteral cancer that has not responded to other treatments.
After your treatment, your doctor will create a schedule of follow-up examinations to look for signs that your cancer has returned. These examinations also look for signs of bladder cancer, since people diagnosed with ureteral cancer have an increased risk of bladder cancer.
The tests you will undergo and the schedule of examinations will depend on your situation. But expect to see your doctor every few months for the first year and then less often after that.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from ureteral cancer, our expert providers at Specialty Care Clinics will take care of your health and help you recover.