Urethral cancer overview

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1];Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Vindhya BellamKonda, M.B.B.S [2]

Overview

Urethral cancer is a rare type of cancer originating from the urethra. The incidence is approximately 0.43 per 100,000 in the united states for men, and approximately 0.15 per 100,000 for women. Types of urethral cancer include transitional cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. It may be caused by an infection of human papillomavirus. Urethra cancer must be differentiated from bladder cancer, cervical cancer, bladder stones, ureteral stones, cystitis, neurogenic bladder, and urethritis. Common risk factors in the development of urethral cancer are history of bladder cancer, urinary tract infections, and sexually transmitted diseases. Symptoms of urethral cancer include hematuria, urinary hesitancy, frequent urination, incontinence, swelling in the groin, and a lump or thickness in the perineum or penis. The prognosis varies with the depth of invasion, anatomical location, size, and stage of the tumor. The predominant therapy for urethral cancer is surgical resection. Adjunctive chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be required.

Classification

Urethral cancer may be classified according to cell types into 3 subtypes: transitional cell, squamous cell, and adenocarcinoma. It may also be classified into distal urethral cancer, proximal urethral cancer and urethral cancer associated with invasive bladder cancer.

Causes

Urethral cancer may be caused by an infection of human papillomavirus.

Differential diagnosis

Urethral cancer must be differentiated from bladder cancer, cervical cancer, bladder stones, ureteral stones, cystitis, neurogenic bladder, and urethritis.

Epidemiology and Demographics

Urethral cancer is a rare disease that tends to affect African American individuals. The incidence is approximately 0.43 per 100,000 in the united states for men, and approximately 0.15 per 100,000 for women.

Risk Factors

Common risk factors in the development of urethral cancer are history of bladder cancer, urinary tract infections, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Prognosis

The prognosis varies with the depth of invasion, anatomical location, size, and stage of the tumor. Superficial tumors located in the distal urethra have the most favorable prognosis.

Staging

The staging of urethral cancer is based on the TNM staging system.

History and Symptoms

Symptoms of urethral cancer include hematuria, urinary hesitancy, frequent urination, incontinence, swelling in the groin, and a lump or thickness in the perineum or penis.

Physical Examination

Common physical examination findings of urethral cancer include hematuria, urethral discharge, perineal/perigenital edema or mass.

Laboratory Findings

Laboratory findings consistent with the diagnosis of urethral cancer include abnormal cells in urine cytology and hematuria.

Other Diagnostic Studies

Other diagnostic studies for urethral cancer include ureteroscopy and biopsy.

Medical Therapy

The predominant therapy for urethral cancer is surgical resection. Adjunctive chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be required. The optimal therapy depends on the stage at diagnosis and the anatomic location of the tumor.

Surgery

Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for urethral cancer. However, it is not recommended among patients with metastatic urethral cancer.

References


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