Urethral cancer is a rare form of cancer that can affect women and men. It is a type of genitourinary cancer that originates in the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside of the body.
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Male or female urethral cancer may be diagnosed with one or several of the following exams and tests:
- Physical exam and medical history.
- Pelvic exam.
- Urinalysis to examine urine for abnormal cells.
- Complete blood count (CBC) test.
- Ureteroscopy to check the urethra for abnormalities.
- Biopsy of the urethra and possibly the prostate gland for examination of tissue samples.
There are various options available to treat urethral cancer including surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. The choice of a treatment plan will depend on the location of the tumor, stage of the cancer, and other factors that your physician will discuss with you.
- Open surgery to remove the cancerous tumors.
- Transurethral resection to remove the cancer, using a small tool inserted into the urethra.
- Electrosection with fulguration, which uses high-energy electricity to destroy cancer.
- Laser surgery, which uses laser beams instead of surgical knives.
- Cystourethrectomy, which is the surgical removal of the urethra and bladder.
- Cystoprostatectomy, which is the surgical removal of the prostate and bladder.
- Lymph node removal in the pelvic and groin area.
- Anterior exenteration, which is the surgical removal of the urethra, bladder and vagina that may also require reconstructive surgery.
- Penectomy, which is the partial removal of the penis or the entire removal of the penis (radical penectomy) that may also require reconstructive surgery.
- Urinary diversion, which is a procedure where surgeons create a new route for urine to be passed from the body in cases when the urethra and/or bladder have been surgically removed.
Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) an advanced form of external-beam radiation therapy—before or after surgery—may be part of a treatment plant to treat a cancer of the urethra. It may also be combined with chemotherapy as part of treatment.
Chemotherapy may also be part of a treatment plan and provided in combination with other treatments including surgery and radiation therapy.