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Urologic, or urological, cancer includes cancers of the circulatory system and male reproductive system, including

  • Bladder (5th most common urologic cancer)
  • Kidneys
  • Ureters
  • Adrenal glands
  • Prostate (the second leading cause of cancer death in American men)
  • Testicles
  • Penis

Optum specializes in the medical and surgical care of all urologic cancers from diagnosis to minimally invasive surgery including advanced robotic procedures.

Understanding your risk

Like all cancer, your risk depends on many variables, including:

  • family history
  • lifestyle behavior (e.g. smoking)
  • general health.

Optum’s oncology department offers comprehensive cancer risk assessments and hereditary cancer genetics evaluation programs to help you identify your risk.

Diagnosing urologic cancers

While screening tests are not available for all urologic cancer types, Optum offers the most advanced blood testing and imaging technology to screen for cancer, and measure the progress of treatment.

Talk to your primary care physician about PSA (Prostate–Specific Antigen) screening

Your oncologist will recommended the right test for your specific symptoms and may include:

  • Blood tests to evaluate hormone levels, kidney function and special tumor markers (such as PSA, AFP, HCG)
  • Bone scan
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • Physical exam – Digital rectal exam
  • Liver function test
  • MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • PET scan (positron emission tomography)
  • Pelvic exam
  • Renal arteriography
  • Ultrasound
  • Urine test
  • Biopsy

Urological cancer prevention

Early diagnosis is the best defense against urological cancers, and the best way to detect cancer early is by getting regular screenings.

  • The PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test and digital rectal exam helps detect cancer while it still contains (localized) in the prostate.
  • Urine testing may reveal microscopic amounts of blood in the urine, which may lead to the detection of bladder cancer.

Early detection of cancer before it spreads (when it is localized) greatly increases the chances of curing it with surgery or radiation.

Both men and women are encouraged to get annual check-ups, especially if there is a close family member diagnosed or treated with any urologic condition.

Talk to your provider about getting your screening.

Common types of urological cancer 

Male Specific Prostate cancer

It is found in the prostate gland, which is a walnut-shaped gland that produces prostate fluid (a part of semen). One of the most common types of cancer in men, and it is usually treatable, especially in early stages.

Symptoms: Trouble with urination, weak urine stream or interruption of stream,  pelvic discomfort, bone pain, erectile dysfunction (ED), blood in the urine or in the semen and painful urination or ejaculation.

Testicular cancer

Develops in one or both testicles. This type of cancer is more common in younger men, but it can occur at any age and is highly treatable.

Symptoms: A lump in the testicle; enlarged testicle/s; heavy feeling in the scrotum; pain in a testicle or in the scrotum;  an achy feeling in the groin or lower abdomen.

Penile cancer

Penile cancer is found on the skin or within the tissues of the penis. Most penile cancers are squamous cell cancers that are found on the foreskin or the glans (head) of the penis. When penile cancer is found early, it is usually curable.

Symptoms:

  • Changes in the color or thickness of the skin on the penis
  • A sore or lump
  • A rash or growth
  • Discharge or drainage that may be accompanied by a foul smell
  • Swelling near the tip of the penis
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin

Urologic cancers that occur in all gender(s):

Bladder cancer

Often occurs in older adults, but anyone can get bladder cancer. The most common place for bladder cancer to develop is in the cells that line the bladder. Fortunately, most bladder cancer is found early because it tends to cause blood in the urine. When found early, it is highly treatable.

Symptoms:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Strong urge to urinate when your bladder isn’t full
  • Inability to urinate
  • Lower back pain, especially on one side
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Swelling in the feet (edema)
  • Bone pain

Kidney cancer

Can often be detected early, as it tends to cause blood in the urine (known as hematuria). Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer in adults.

Symptoms:

  • Blood in the urine (discolored urine that is pink, red or brownish may be a sign of blood)
  • Continuous back pain just below the ribs
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

Adrenal cancer

Adrenal cancer is cancer of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands rest on top of the kidneys. There is one adrenal gland on each kidney.

Symptoms:

  • Weight gain, weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • A deep voice and increased hair growth, usually on the face (in women)
  • Pain in the belly, or on the side or lower back

Treatments

There are many treatment options available including chemotherapy,  immunotherapy and radiation therapy. However, surgery is often the primary treatment for urologic cancers.

The urologic oncology team at Optum is a nationally recognized leader in the surgical and medical management of urologic cancers. Our experienced specialists use state-of-the-art robotic technology for faster recovery, less scaring, less pain, and rapid return to normal activities.

All of the following are taken in consideration for treatment:

  • Type of cancer
  • Stage of cancer (how far the cancer has spread) and grade (degree of aggressiveness)
  • Your age
  • Your overall health
  • Your personal preferences
  • Prevention

Medical care and help

To find a urological cancer specialist near you, visit our providers page.

Click here to learn more about Optum’s minimally invasive robotic assisted surgery options.

Contact us if you have any questions.