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What you should know about urological cancers

Posted August 02, 2018 by Joshua B Nething, M.D., Summa Health Medical Group - Urology

Urologic Cancers 2

Did you know one out of every 10 men in the US will develop prostate cancer? This form is the most common cancer in men. Bladder cancer, another common cancer in the US, affects as many as 68,000 individuals every year. It’s the fourth leading cancer for men and the eleventh for women. For men ages 15 to 44, testicular cancer is the leading type of cancer. What do all of these have in common? They are cancers that form in or affect parts of the urinary tract.

The urinary tract is our body’s drainage system. It removes urine, which is essential for waste removal. The system works in tandem with multiple parts of the body to eliminate toxins. If one of these vital organs is disrupted, the entire system can be affected. The biggest parts of this system include the kidneys, ureters (thin tubs of muscles on each side of the bladder) and the bladder.

The four types of cancer associated with the urinary tract are bladder, kidney, prostate and testicular.

Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers in the US. While it occurs much more frequently in older men, it can affect both women and younger individuals. While this cancer forms in the bladder, it can also be found in other parts of the urinary tract. This cancer is highly treatable and usually found at the early stage, however follow-up tests may need to be conducted for many years post recovery.

Common symptoms include: blood in the urine, painful urination and frequent (or feeling the need) to urinate without any results.

There are several different types of kidney cancer. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common and accounts for roughly 9 out 10 kidney cancers. There are several different subtypes of RCC as well. While it is usually characteristic of a single tumor within one kidney, sometimes multiple tumors in one or even both can occur at the same time. Other forms of kidney cancer include transitional cell carcinoma, Wilms tumor and Renal sarcoma.

Early kidney cancers usually don’t show any symptoms. Larger tumors sometimes cause symptoms associated with a poorly functioning urinary tract, like blood in the urine, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, lower back pain on one side and anemia.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. According to the CDC, after lung cancer, prostate is the leading cause of cancer deaths in American males. The good news is that while an average American man has a 30 percent chance of developing prostate cancer, there is only a three percent risk of dying from it. It’s more common for a man to die with prostate cancer than from it.

Just like most of the urinary tract cancers, prostate cancer usually does show any signs or symptoms until the tumor has progressed into a large mass. Once large enough, the tumor can cause painful or burning urination, difficulty starting or holding back urination, bloody urine and pain in the lower back, hips, pelvis or thighs. 

Testicular cancer, when detected early, is highly treatable, curable and usually pretty rare, compared to other cancers. However, it is the most common form found in men ages 14-35. Self-exams are extremely important in early diagnosis.

This form of cancer has some of the clearest signs and symptoms, including a lump or enlargement in either testicle, dull aching in the abdomen or groin, pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum and/or a feeling of heaviness or sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum.

Summa Health urologists will work with your primary care physician to make sure all of your health needs are being fully discussed and treated. It can be difficult to talk about urologic conditions but you can be confident that you’re being seen by compassionate, fellowship-trained urologists who can treat a range of issues including infertility, cancer and female pelvic medicine. Our physicians provide urology services that utilize innovative therapies, treatments, minimally invasive techniques and robotic surgery.

For more information on urological cancers, contact the Summa Health Urology Team at 330.374.1255 or visit


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