Ureter Cancer Treatment
The ureters are the ducts through which urine passes from the kidneys to the bladder. The key to treating cancer of the ureter is tailoring the right therapy to the patient’s specific risk. Since ureter cancer is very rare, it is important to receive treatment from physicians who have experience with this malignancy.
Treatment to Preserve the Kidney and Ureter
Management of ureteral cancer depends on both the grade of the tumor and where it is located. Tumors located higher up in a ureter—closer to the kidney—have a greater chance of recurrence. Because of this increased likelihood of developing new tumors, it is important whenever possible to use treatment strategies that will preserve the kidney and ureter.
Endoscopic Urologic Management
Some ureteral cancers can be treated using minimally invasive surgical techniques. These procedures involve inserting a flexible tube through the urethra or a small incision in the abdomen. A laser deployed at the end of the tube is used to destroy the tumor.
Some cases of ureter cancer require the surgical removal of the ureter, also known as ureterectomy. Surgical removal can sometimes be limited to just the segment of the ureter involved in the tumor. For advanced cancers, removal of the entire ureter, the entire kidney and a section of the bladder may be necessary.
Patients with a ureter cancer in a higher risk category who have undergone surgery can benefit from drug therapy. A combination of drugs can reduce the chance of the cancer recurring after surgery. Ureter cancers that have spread to other parts of the body are treated the same as metastatic bladder cancer. Several chemotherapy agents are able to extend survival even after the patient’s primary cancer has spread.
Some patients with ureter cancer benefit from radiation to the area of the tumor. This is usually done in combination with surgery and chemotherapy.