Ureteral Cancer

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What is Cancer of the Ureter?

The ureter is a hollow muscular tube that carries the urine from the kidney to the bladder. Most cancers of the ureter are similar to those in the bladder. They are called transitional cell carcinomas (cancer in the lining of the ureter).

In patients with chronic infection or stones, squamous cell carcinoma may also develop (cancer that begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells found in the tissue that forms the lining of the ureter).

Treatment Options for Cancer of the Ureter

Surgery is the primary treatment option for cancer of the ureter. Treatment depends on the type, size, stage and location of the lesion.

Removal of the entire kidney and ureter is the most common procedure. However, surgeons at Fox Chase may use nephron-sparing procedures to save kidney function. These include the use of delicate telescopes to target the ureteral cancer tumors without removing the kidney.

If the ureteral cancer tumor is larger, it may be possible to remove the affected portion of the ureter without removing the kidney itself.

  • For the middle of the ureter, surgeons remove the tumor and rebuild the ureter.

  • When the tumor is located in the bottom third, surgeons may remove that section of the ureter. The rest is reconnected to the bladder. This procedure is called a ureteroneocystomy, or reimplantation.

  • If the entire kidney and ureter need to be removed, surgeons often can do this laparoscopically (minimally-invasive) with better results.

  • If the tumor is located in the upper third of the ureter, a nephroureterectomy is often performed, removing the entire kidney and remainder of the ureter.