CANCERS OF THE URINARY SYSTEM
Urological cancers include cancers of the bladder and kidney, as well as gender-specific cancers such as prostate, penile and testicular cancer.
- Male-specific cancers
Prostate cancer – this is cancer of the prostate gland, which is located between the bladder and the penis. The prostate gland is responsible for producing prostate fluid, a part of semen. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancers diagnosed in men.
Penile cancer – cancer of the penis is commonly found on the skin or within the tissues of the foreskin or the glans (head) of the penis.
Testicular cancer – this type of cancer can develop in one or both testicles.
- Gender-neutral cancers
Bladder cancer – this type of cancer is commonly developed in the cells which line the bladder.
Kidney cancer – renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer.
Adrenal cancer – cancer can also develop in the adrenal glands which sit on top of the kidneys.
Through screening, many urological cancers may be diagnosed early and treated. While the signs and symptoms of urological cancers may vary depending on the type and stage of cancer, the following symptoms are common:
Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer
- Difficulty urinating
- Weak urine stream
- Pelvic pain
- Blood in the urine
- Painful urination or ejaculation
- Erectile dysfunction
- Blood in the semen
Signs and symptoms of penile cancer
- Change in the skin of the penis
- A lump or sore on the penis
- A rash on the penis
- Swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin
- Swelling of the tip of the penis
Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer
- A lump in the testicle
- Swelling of one or both testicles
- The sensation of a heavy scrotum
- Pain in one or both testicles
- An ache in the groin
Signs and symptoms of kidney cancer
- Blood in the urine
- Persistent pain in your back, below the ribs or on the side
- A lump in your back or side
- Unexplained weight loss
- An ongoing fever
- Extreme fatigue
Signs and symptoms of bladder cancer
- Blood in the urine
- Discomfort when urinating
- Changes in urination habits similar to the symptoms of a urinary tract infection
- Difficulty to urinate
- Lower back pain
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should see your doctor to screen for urological cancers.
How are these types of cancer diagnosed?
If you are referred to Dr Ridgard, he may suggest screening and run a few tests.
When diagnosing urological cancers, the following may be done to obtain an accurate diagnosis:
- A physical examination (for prostate cancer this may involve a digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test).
- Blood tests for tumour markers.
- Urine tests for urine cultures and cytology.
- An ultrasound of the bladder, kidney, prostate, testicles or penis.
- Computerised tomography scan (CT scan).
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Positron emission tomography scan (PET scan).
- A biopsy of the specific organ may also be necessary.
- For suspected kidney cancer, an intravenous pyelogram (IVP) or intravenous urogram (IVU) and retrograde pyelogram may be done.
Those diagnosed with a urological cancer will receive personalised treatment tailored to the type and stage of cancer present. Treatment will combine the skills and expertise of various medical specialists, including an oncologist, radiation therapist and possibly a nephrologist.
What are the treatments for urological cancers?
Treatment of cancers of the bladder, kidney, prostate, testicles and penis will be individualised as it will depend on the type, size and stage of cancer. Treatment of various urological cancers may involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery or a combination of these methods.
As your urologist, Dr Ridgard performs surgery as a treatment for various urologic cancers. Beyond incisional and excisional biopsies, for kidney tumours, surgery may involve a partial & radical nephrectomy. A radical cystectomy or transurethral resection of a bladder tumour (TURBT) may be done for bladder cancer, and radical prostatectomy & radiotherapy have proven effective in the treatment of prostate cancer. Dr Ridgard is also capable of performing a penectomy for penile cancer.