Urothelial carcinoma is the cancer of urinary system that includes the kidney, urinary blaader, ureter and other accessory organs. Cancer of the ureter is a rare type of cancer. The ureter is a tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder. It is a type of transitional cell cancer. Transitional epithelium lines the ureter, urinary bladder, and the superior urethra. This cancer is common and accounts to about one out of every 25 upper urinary tract tumors.
Smoking is associated with increased risk of ureter cancer. Chronic irritation of the kidney due to the use of nephrotoxic medications and exposure to chemicals such as leather, plastics, or rubber is the main cause of cancer of the ureter.
Older adults and patients with a history of bladder cancer are at an increased risk of ureter cancer.
Initially, there will be no symptoms. Symptoms appear in the later stages of cancer and include:
Persistent back pain
Ureter pain; especially if there are kidney stones
Flank pain (discomfort in the upper abdomen or back and sides)
Increased urinary frequency
Hematuria (blood in urine)
Diagnosis of cancer of the ureter includes:
Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) test – to detect chromosomal abnormalities
Urography – imaging studies such as computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging for staging the cancer
Intravenous pyelography (IVP) – urography with x-ray for staging and detecting the abnormalities in the urinary system
Ureteroscopy – to detect abnormalities in the ureter
Biopsy – microscopical examination of the lesion for staging the cancer
The standard treatment for the ureter cancer is surgery. Surgery is performed to remove the entire ureter or a part of the ureter depending on the extent of the disease.
Endoscopic resection or fulguration is performed to remove cancer cells with the help of ureteroscopy. Fulguration procedure uses electric current to remove cancer cells.
Laser surgery is also performed using a laser beam to destroy cancer cells.
In some cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also given to destroy cancer.
The symptoms and treatment can cause certain physical changes affecting your quality-of-life. Though you are just diagnosed, undergoing the treatment, or finished the treatment; you should learn how to cope with cancer. Learn about the disease and make certain lifestyle changes for faster recovery.
Make your caregivers understand the situation and let them provide support to you in coping with cancer.