Is Transitional Cell Cancer?
The tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder is known as
the ureter. Most healthy
people have two kidneys and, therefore, two ureters. The top of each ureter is
found in the middle of the kidney in an area known as the renal pelvis. Urine collects in the
renal pelvis and is drained by the ureter into the bladder.
The renal pelvis and the ureter are lined with specific types of
cells called transitional cells.
These cells are able to bend and stretch without breaking apart. Cancer that
begins in the transitional cells is the most common type of cancer that
develops in the renal pelvis and ureter.
In some cases, transitional cell cancer metastasizes. Metastasis occurs when
cancer from one organ or part of the body spreads to another organ or part of
Potential Signs of Transitional Cell Cancer
In the early stages of the disease, cancer of the ureter may not
have symptoms. However, as the cancer grows, symptoms may appear. These
- blood in the urine
- persistent back pain
- unexplained weight loss
- painful or frequent urination
These symptoms are associated with malignant cancer of the
ureter, but they are also associated with other health conditions. It’s
important to see your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms so
that you can get a proper diagnosis.
Are the Causes and Risk Factors of Transitional Cell Cancer?
Transitional cell cancer is less common than other kidney or
bladder cancers. The causes of the disease have not been fully identified.
However, genetic factors have been noted to cause the disease in some patients.
Other potential risk factors for the development of this type of
- abuse of
phenacetin, a pain medication that has not been sold in the United States since
- working in the chemical industry and plastics
- exposure to coal, tar, and asphalt
- cancer treating drugs cyclophosphamide and
Is Transitional Cell Cancer Diagnosed?
This type of cancer can be difficult to diagnose. Your doctor
will initially complete a physical exam to check for signs of the disease. They
will order a urinalysis to check your urine for blood, protein, and bacteria.
Based on the results of these tests, your doctor may order additional tests to further
evaluate the bladder, ureter, and renal pelvis.
Additional tests may include:
- a ureteroscopy to check for abnormalities in the,
ureter and renal pelvis
- an intravenous pyelogram (IVP) to evaluate the
flow of fluid from the kidneys to the bladder
- a CT scan of the kidneys and bladder
- an ultrasound of the abdomen
- an MRI
- a biopsy of cells from the renal pelvis or
Is Transitional Cell Cancer Treated?
Current treatments for transitional cell carcinoma include:
- Endoscopic resection, fulguration, or laser
surgery: Through a ureteroscope, physicians can destroy or remove cancer cells with
an electrical current, laser surgery, or direct tumor removal.
resection: This procedure involves the removal of the part of the ureter
that contains the cancer.
This procedure involves the removal of the kidney, ureter, and bladder tissue.
Your doctor may also use
other treatments to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back. These can include:
- anti-cancer drugs
- biological therapies that kill cancer cells
or prevent them from growing
Is the Outlook for this Type of Cancer?
The outlook for someone diagnosed with cancer of the renal pelvis
and ureter depends upon a number of different factors. Your doctor will talk to
you about each of these. In particular, the chance of recovery is determined
Stage of the Cancer
People with advanced stages of the disease will have a lower
survival rate even with treatment.
Location of the Tumor
If the tumor is located beyond the ureter and renal pelvis, the
cancer may quickly metastasize to your kidney or other organs, reducing chances
Overall Kidney Health
If you have underlying kidney disorders, you will have a lower
rate of survival even with treatment.
Cancer recurrences have lower cure and
survival rates than initial cancers.
If the cancer has spread to other organs in the body, you will
have a lower survival rate.
It is important to see your doctor for regular checkups. You
should also make sure to let them know about any new symptoms you have
developed. This will make it more likely that your doctor will catch
potentially serious conditions in the earliest stages.