Urethral cancer

The urethra takes urine from the bladder to outside your body. Cancer that begins in the urethra is very rare but becomes more likely as you get older. It can spread quickly to other areas of the body.

 

What is urethral cancer?

The most common kind of urethral cancer is called squamous cell carcinoma. It develops near the bladder in women and the lining of the urethra inside the penis in men. Other types include:

  • Adenocarcinocama: develops near the glands around the urethra in men and women
  • Transitional cell rcinoma: develops near the opening of the urethra in women and near the prostate gland in men

Causes of urethral cancer

  • No one knows precisely what causes urethral cancer. Risk factors include:
  • Being over 60, white and female
  • Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Having had bladder cancer
  • Have a common sexually transmitted virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Previous radiation therapy (men)
  • Previous sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that have led to inflammation of the urethra

Symptoms of urethral cancer

There may be no signs at first. As time goes on, symptoms can include:

A lump in the groin

A lump or hard mass in your genital tract (advanced cancer)

Blood in your urine (haematuria)

Frequent need to urinate, espically at night

Incontinence

Trouble starting to urinate

Weak or interrupted flow of urine

Having one or more of these signs doesn’t mean you have cancer but it’s best to ask your doctor for advice. The sooner your cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully.

Tests and diagnosis

Your doctor will discuss your symptoms and may feel your abdomen. You may also have a vaginal or rectal examination. They may arrange for you to see a specialist for more tests.

These may include:

  • Biopsy to remove some cells for further analysis
  • Cystoscopy– a camera test to look inside the bladder and take biopsies from the bladder wall
  • Scans including CT chest/abdomen/pelvis and MRI abdomen/pelvis
  • Urine tests to look for blood and cancer cells in the urine
  • Uteroscopy to look inside the ureter. A tiny sample of tissue may be taken for analysis (biopsy)

Treatments we cover

Urethral cancer is difficult to treat due to its location. Treatments may include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy depending on how advanced the tumour is.

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

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Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

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Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

Read more

Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

Read more

Meet our doctors

Our-doctors

Everything we do is focused on designing better care for our patients. With a network of 12 specialist oncology treatment centres across the UK, we provide the most up-to-date treatments and technology as standard.

We attract and retain some of the most experienced doctors in the country, who all have a passion for improving patient outcomes and specialise in the treatment of different types of cancer.

Meet our doctors

Search for a centre near you

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Birmingham

Little Aston Hall Drive, Sutton Coldfield, B74 3BF

+44 (0)121 353 3055

Bristol

300 Park Avenue, Aztec West, Bristol, BS32 4SY

01454 456500

Cambridge

Fordham Rd, Newmarket CB8 7XN, UK

+44 (0)1223 907 600

Chelmsford

Springfield Cancer Centre, Lawn Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 7GU

+44 (0)1245 987 901

Cromwell Hospital

164-178 Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW5 0TU, UK

0203 848 0900

Elstree

Unit 710, Centennial Park, Centennial Avenue, Elstree, Borehamwood, WD6 3SZ

+44 (0)208 236 9040

Guildford

BMI St Martha Oncology Centre, 46 Harvey Road, Guildford, GU1 3LX

+44 (0)1483 806 000

Maidstone

17 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UA

+44 (0)1732 207 000

Milton Keynes

Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood East, Milton Keynes, MK14 6LS

+44 (0)1908 467 700

Nottingham

The Park Centre for oncology, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Nottingham, NG5 8RX

+44 (0)1158 077 400

Oxford

Peters Way, Sandy Lane West, Oxford, OX4 6LB

+44 (0)1865 237 700

Portsmouth

Bartons Road, Havant, PO9 5NA

+44 (0)23 9248 4992

Southampton

Spire Hospital, Chalybeate Close, Southampton, SO16 6UY

+44 (0)381 277 900

Windsor

69 Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD

+44 (0)1753 418 444