Urine from bladder is carried to outside the body through a tube called urethra. Urethra in women is about 1.5 inches long and is just above the vagina. In men urethra is about 8 inches long and it passes through prostate gland and penis to the outside of the body. Urethral canal cancer is not very common and it is usually found in men. The three main types of urethral cancers are discussed below. Urethral cancer tends to spread and is often found in nearby lymph nodes.
Squamous cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of urethral cancer. It is usually found i men in the inside of the penis in the urethral lining and it is found in women in the part near the bladder.
Transitional carcinoma: In women this type of cancer is found in the cells near the bladder and in men it is found in the lining of the urethra in the penis.
Adenocarcinoma: This type of cancer is commonly found in both men and women in the glands in the urethra.
Symptoms of urethral cancer
Problems in urination including trouble in starting urination, weak urination, interrupted urination, frequent urination, incontinence etc. are symptoms of urethral cancer. Blood in the urine, thickness in perineum of penis, and swelling in the groin etc are other symptoms of urethral cancer.
Diagnosis of urethral cancer
Diagnosis of urethral cancer is done by your physician studying your medical history and conducting a physical examination. Further studies such as MRI and cystoscopy, examination of the water passage using a flexible thin telescope, may also be required.
Treatment for urethral cancer
Treatment for urethral cancer is based on whether the cancer is affected on the distal or proximal part of the urethra. It is also based on whether the cancer has spread to adjacent tissues and lymph nodes etc. Length of urethra is about 1.5 inches in men and 8 inches in women. The part of the urethra near to the bladder is known as proximal urethra and the part that is away from bladder is known as distal urethra. Urethral cancer can affect both these parts simultaneously.
Various surgical procedures are used by surgeons to remove the urethral cancer depending upon the part of the urethra where cancer is affected, the stage of the cancer and the general health condition of the patient. Open excision, transurethral resection surgery, electro resection with fulguration laser surgery, lymph node resection, cystourethrectomy, cystoprostatectomy, etc are the name of the surgical procedures used for removing urethra or connected parts.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy etc are other treatment options available for the treatment of urethral cancer.