What is Ureter Cancer?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2019
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Cancer of the urine collection system is rare, with only a few thousand people diagnosed annually with the disease. When it does occur, it is known as ureter cancer. Cancer of the ureter can include the ureter itself, as well as other areas of the renal pelvis.

Ureter cancer is also known as transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter, or renal pelvic and ureteral cancer. Causes of this disease are often unknown. Chronic kidney irritation can sometimes be the culprit. This irritation can be attributed to numerous factors, such as smoking, a history of bladder cancer, or the presence of harmful chemicals and dyes in the body.

No complete protection against ureter cancer is available. Certain preventative measures, however, can lessen a person's risk levels. Refraining from or stopping smoking can reduce one's risk of ureter cancer. Using medications appropriately and avoiding harmful chemicals are also helpful deterrents. If exposure to harmful chemicals is necessary, such as in the work environment, protective clothing and equipment should be worn and used at all times.

People who are affected with ureter cancer are typically older than age 65. Cancers that affect the pelvis and ureter make up less than five percent of all cancers of the kidney and urinary tract. Men typically develop this type of cancer more often than women.


Symptoms of renal pelvic and ureteral cancer vary by patient. Some of the most common symptoms include complications with urine as well as pain in specific pelvic regions. Urine may be dark, bloody, or brown. Urination urges may increase or become frequent, as well as painful. Weight loss, fatigue, and back pain can also present themselves as ureter cancer symptoms.

If diagnosed with the disease, ureter cancer prognosis can be very good. When the cancer is found early and removed from the body through a surgical operation, it can be cured. This type of surgery often involves a partial or full removal of a kidney as well as parts of the bladder, lymph nodes, and possibly the ureter. Surgery used on patients with this type of cancer may or may not be invasive, depending on the size and location of the cancer.

Chemotherapy, often combined with radiation therapy, is typically used to treat the patient if the cancer has spread to surrounding areas. In such cases, ureter cancer is often incurable. Other complications, such as kidney failure, can also occur.


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