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Types of Urologic Cancer

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is cancer that affects the prostate gland in men. Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas and develop from the cells that make some of the fluid in semen. 

Most prostate cancers grow slowly over time, however, in some cases, prostate cancer can develop and spread quickly. All men should be screened for prostate cancer using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test starting at age 50, or sooner if you have certain risk factors, such as a history of prostate cancer in your family. 

If your PSA test shows signs of prostate cancer, your doctor will likely order a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) to view the prostate more closely. In addition, a biopsy may be done to confirm cancer. Your treatment will depend on the stage of your prostate cancer and how fast it is growing. In many cases, a “watch and wait” approach is used with prostate cancer. 

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer usually begins in the cells of the innermost lining of the bladder, but it can spread into other layers of the bladder wall. There are three types:

  • Non-invasive—meaning the cancer stays in the lining of the bladder. 

  • Muscle invasive—meaning the cancer has grown into the main muscle layer of the bladder

  • Advanced—meaning the cancer has spread beyond the bladder tissue. 

Your doctor may order a urinalysis or urine cytology as a first step to check for signs of cancer. If those tests are abnormal, a cystoscopy is used to diagnose bladder cancer. Your treatment plan will depend on whether your bladder cancer is non-invasive, muscle invasive or advanced.

Kidney Cancer

The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma, which begins in the lining of the renal tubules. Your doctor may order a urinalysis to determine if further testing is needed. Additional testing may include imaging tests, like X-rays, ultrasounds or an MRI, to diagnose kidney cancer. In some cases, a biopsy of the kidney may be needed to confirm cancer. Your treatment will depend on the stage of your cancer, the exact location and whether or not the cancer has spread beyond the kidneys.

Penile Cancer

Penile cancer can affect any part of the penis. The first signs of penile cancer may include penile lesions and swollen lymph nodes in your groin. 

If you have symptoms of penile cancer, your doctor will start with a physical exam to check for lumps. Next, you may have imaging tests, such as an MRI, to help diagnose penile cancer. In some cases, a biopsy of penile tissue may be needed to confirm cancer. Your treatment plan will depend on the location and stage of your penile cancer.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer begins in the testicles, which are responsible for producing the male sex hormones and sperm. Most cases of testicular cancer start in the germ cells.

Symptoms of testicular cancer may include swelling, tenderness or lumps in your testicles. In many cases, testicular cancer can be diagnosed using a blood test to check for high levels of certain proteins in the blood. These proteins, called tumor markers, can indicate there is a testicular tumor. You may also have an ultrasound to get an image of the testicles. 

A biopsy is not recommended for testicular cancer because it comes with a risk of spreading the cancer. If other tests, such as ultrasound and bloodwork, suggest testicular cancer, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the tumor.

Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome

Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome is a genetic disease that makes you more likely to form both noncancerous and cancerous tumors, including hemangioblastomas, which form from new blood vessels. 

Hemangioblastomas are usually noncancerous, but they can cause serious side effects depending on where they form. Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome also puts you at an increased risk for developing certain types of cancer in the kidneys and pancreas. 

If your doctor suspects you may have Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, you may have imaging tests, such as an MRI, to look for tumors and cysts. Your treatment plan will depend on the location and size of any tumors or cysts, and whether or not they are cancerous.

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