Renal pelvis or ureter cancerTransitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter; Kidney cancer - renal pelvis; Ureter cancer
Cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter is cancer that forms in the kidney's pelvis or the tube (ureter) that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.
Cancer can grow in the urine collection system, but it is uncommon. Renal pelvis and ureter cancers affect men more often than women. These cancers are more common in people older than 65.
The exact causes of this cancer are not known. Long-term (chronic) irritation of the kidney from harmful substances removed in the urine may be a factor. This irritation may be caused by:
Kidney damage from medicines, especially ones for pain (
Analgesic nephropathy involves damage to one or both kidneys caused by overexposure to mixtures of medicines, especially over-the-counter pain medici...
- Exposure to certain dyes and chemicals used to manufacture leather goods, textiles, plastics, and rubber
People who have had bladder cancer are also at risk.
Symptoms may include any of the following:
- Back pain, most often where ribs and spine meet
Blood in your urine is called hematuria. The amount may be very small and only detected with urine tests or under a microscope. In other cases, the...
Burning, pain, or
discomfort with urination
Discomfort with urination
Painful urination is any pain, discomfort, or burning sensation when passing urine.
- Dark, rust-colored, or brown urine
Fatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness, or lack of energy.
Flank pain is pain in one side of the body between the upper belly area (abdomen) and the back.
that can't be explained
Unexplained weight loss is a decrease in body weight, when you did not try to lose the weight on your own. Many people gain and lose weight. Uninten...
Urinary frequency or urgency
Urinary frequency or urgency
Frequent urination means needing to urinate more often than usual. Urgent urination is a sudden, strong urge to urinate. This causes a discomfort i...
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will perform a physical exam, and examine your belly area (abdomen). In rare cases, this may reveal an enlarged kidney.
If tests are done:
- Urinalysis may show blood in the urine.
A complete blood count (
) may show
A complete blood count (CBC) test measures the following:The number of red blood cells (RBC count)The number of white blood cells (WBC count)The tota...
Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues. Different type...
(microscopic examination of cells) may reveal cancer cells.
A cytology exam of urine is a test used to detect cancer and other diseases of the urinary tract.
Other tests that may be ordered include:
Abdominal CT scan
Abdominal CT scan
An abdominal CT scan is an imaging method. This test uses x-rays to create cross-sectional pictures of the belly area. CT stands for computed tomog...
- Chest x-ray
- Cystoscopy with ureteroscopy
An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is a special x-ray exam of the kidneys, bladder, and ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladd...
Abdominal ultrasound is a type of imaging test. It is used to look at organs in the abdomen, including the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and...
MRI of the abdomen
MRI of the abdomen
An abdominal magnetic resonance imaging scan is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves. The waves create pictures of the inside ...
A renal scan is a nuclear medicine exam in which a small amount of radioactive material (radioisotope) is used to measure the function of the kidneys...
These tests may reveal a tumor or show that the cancer has spread from the kidneys.
The goal of treatment is to eliminate the cancer.
Surgery to remove all or part of the kidney ( nephrectomy ) is often done. This may include removing part of the bladder and tissues around it, or the lymph nodes. If the tumor is in the ureter, it may be possible to remove it while preserving the kidney.
Kidney removal, or nephrectomy, is surgery to remove all or part of a kidney. It may involve:Part of one kidney removed (partial nephrectomy)All of ...
A tumor is an abnormal growth of body tissue. Tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).
When the cancer has spread outside of the kidney or ureter, chemotherapy is often used. Because these tumors are similar to a form of bladder cancer , they are treated with a similar type of chemotherapy.
Bladder cancer is a cancer that starts in the bladder. The bladder is the body part that holds and releases urine. It is in the center of the lower...
You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group . Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.
The following organizations are good resources for information on cancer:American Cancer Society -- www. cancer. orgCancerCare -- www. cancercare. or...
Outcome varies depending on the location of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread. Cancer that is only in the kidney or ureter may be cured with surgery.
Cancer that has spread to other organs is usually not curable.
Complications from this cancer may include:
Acute kidney failure is the rapid (less than 2 days) loss of your kidneys' ability to remove waste and help balance fluids and electrolytes in your b...
- Local spread of the tumor with increasing pain
- Spread of the cancer
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your provider if you have any of the symptoms listed above.
Measures that may help prevent this cancer include:
- Follow your provider's advice regarding medicines, including over-the-counter pain medicine.
- Stop smoking.
- Wear protective equipment if you are likely to be exposed to substances that are toxic to the kidneys.
National Cancer Institute. PDQ transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis and ureter treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated October 1, 2015. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/transitionalcell/HealthProfessional . Accessed June 30, 2016.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN clinical practice guidelines in oncology (NCCN guidelines): kidney cancer. Updated May 26, 2016. Version 3.2016. www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/kidney.pdf . Accessed June 30, 2016.
Pili R, Kauffman E, Rodriguez R. Cancer of the kidney. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology . 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 82.
Kidney anatomy - illustration
The kidneys are responsible for removing wastes from the body, regulating electrolyte balance and blood pressure, and stimulating red blood cell production.
Review Date: 5/20/2016
Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.