Types of Urologic Cancer in Women

More commonly found in men, kidney or bladder cancer is still a prevalent issue for women’s health. Often, an early indicator includes blood in your urine. Since this symptom may be related to a number of issues, a safe starting point is a visit with a urology specialist.

If you or a loved has received a urologic cancer diagnosis or believes that you may, Western Michigan Urological Associates has the expert knowledge and compassionate care you need. We provide world-class care from the initial visit and evaluation through treatment, recovery, and follow-up consultations.

The treatment process begins with a complete patient assessment and diagnostic evaluation. Then, our experienced team members work to create a treatment plan tailored to you, using the most advanced techniques, including da Vinci robotic and minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries, cryoablation, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. We will ensure you receive the smoothest, most efficient, and best care possible.

Kidney Cancer: What You Need to Know

Kidney cancer is most commonly found in individuals over 40 years old and tends to be more frequent in men than women. A majority of kidney cancers occur spontaneously, although some are a result of hereditary conditions.

There are several different types of kidney cancer based on what symptoms you may be experiencing, including:

  • Local Kidney Cancer – Roughly 60 percent of kidney cancers are diagnosed at a localized stage (cancer confined to kidney without spread). Localized cancers may not have symptoms or may be associated with hematuria (blood in the urine), flank pain or abdominal discomfort. Surgery is the most effective treatment.
  • Advanced Kidney Cancer – Approximately 40 percent of kidney cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage that has spread to surrounding structures, lymph nodes or metastasis to more distant sites. Common sites of metastatic spread include the lung, bone and brain.
  • Blood in urine, which may make urine look rusty or darker red
  • Side pain that doesn’t go away
  • A lump or mass in your side or abdomen
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

There may be several different risk factors, or causes, for kidney cancer, including:

  • Smoking
  • Family history

Testing for kidney cancer in women will usually involve several different types of testing to determine the severity and type of cancer you may be experiencing, including:

  • Urinalysis (urine test) – checks urine for blood and other signs of disease
  • Blood tests — A blood sample is collected and checks blood for several substances, including creatinine. A high creatinine level may indicate that the kidneys aren’t functioning properly.
  • Ultrasound — This test uses sound waves to create a picture of your kidneys and nearby tissues, which can show a kidney tumor.
  • CT scan – A series of detailed pictures of your abdomen show your urinary tract and lymph nodes, and may show if cancer is present in your kidneys, lymph nodes, or elsewhere in the abdomen.
  • MRI – This large machine uses a magnet linked to a computer to create detailed pictures of your urinary tract and lymph nodes. An MRI can show cancer in your kidneys, lymph nodes or other tissues in the abdomen.
  • IVP – A dye is injected into a vein in your arm and travels through the body to collect in your kidneys which makes the kidneys show up on x-rays. A series of x-rays then tracks the dye’s movement through your kidneys to your ureters and bladder. The x-rays can indicate a kidney tumor among other problems.

We know it can be difficult to discuss your treatment plan for urologic cancer. Our doctors are here to help make you to feel at ease throughout the treatment process. What can you expect with the different treatment options?

  • Active surveillance of small, early-stage, low-risk kidney cancers may be an option for those not interested in surgery or ablative therapy. Active surveillance may be appropriate for older individuals with small kidney tumors for whom surgery risk is too great.
  • Ablative therapies use radiofrequency energy and extremely low temperatures to cause tissue destruction. Ablative therapy is most commonly used in older or medically unhealthy patients for whom surgical risk is too great.
  • Partial nephrectomy includes the removal of the tumor without removing the entire kidney and is often recommended for smaller kidney tumors, in patients with a single kidney or tumors in both kidneys. We may also recommend this procedure for patients with diabetes or hypertension to preserve as much renal function as possible. This can be done through a conventional (larger) incision or with a robotically assisted laparoscopic approach.
  • Radical nephrectomy consists of removing the entire kidney with the surrounding tissue. This approach is most often used in cases in which a partial nephrectomy is not possible because of tumor size or location. Radical nephrectomy is also the standard treatment for high-risk kidney cancers.

Bladder Cancer: What You Need to Know

Bladder Cancer is most common in individuals over the age of 60 and more often found in men than women. However, women still face potential risks from the disease. There are two broad categories of bladder cancer based on what symptoms you may be experiencing, including:

  • Non-Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer — Approximately 70 percent of patients have non-muscle invasive cancer
  • Muscle-Invasive And Advanced Bladder Cancer — Between 20 percent and 25 percent of bladder cancer cases are muscle-invasive
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Painful urination
  • Urinary frequency
  • Urinary urgency
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anemia
  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Weight loss

There are a variety of risk factors, or causes, for bladder cancer, including:

  • Cigarette Smoking —The risk of bladder cancer is increased nearly fivefold and as high as 30 percent of all bladder cancers in women may be caused by cigarette smoke. People who quit smoking have a gradual decline in risk.
  • Chemical Exposure At Work — About one in four bladder cancer cases is caused by exposure to cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens) on the job. Dye workers, rubber workers, aluminum workers, leather workers, truck drivers, and pesticide applicators are at the highest risk.
  • Radiation And Chemotherapy — Women who received radiation therapy to treat cervical cancer have an increased risk of developing transitional cell bladder cancer. Some people who have received the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) are also at increased risk.
  • Bladder Infection — A long-term (chronic) bladder infection or irritation may lead to squamous cell bladder cancer. Bladder infections do not increase the risk of transitional cell cancers.
  • Parasite Infection — Infection with the schistosomiasis parasite has been linked to bladder cancer.

Testing for bladder cancer in women usually involves several different types of testing to determine the severity and type of cancer you may be experiencing, including:

  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Cystoscopy (examining the inside of the bladder with a camera)
  • Bladder biopsy (usually performed during cystoscopy)
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
  • Urinalysis
  • Urine cytology

We know processing this information and planning treatment can be difficult. Our doctors are here to help make you to feel at ease throughout the treatment process. Here are some things you can expect with the different treatment options. If the cancer has spread into the bladder wall or outside the bladder, treatment may include:

  • Cystectomy With Urinary Diversion —In women, the bladder, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and anterior portion of the vagina are identified, dissected, and removed. Surrounding lymph nodes are removed to assess the extent or spread of the cancer.
  • Chemotherapy — A systemic treatment in which drugs are given throughout the entire body. It’s designed to kill cancer cells. Typically, it is administered intravenously (through a vein).
  • Radiation Therapy With Chemotherapy — Radiation uses high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. The addition of systemic chemotherapy makes cancer cells more vulnerable to the killing effects of radiation. Radiation therapy is also used to relieve symptoms of advanced bladder.

We understand that a Urologic Cancer diagnosis may be frightening, but we are here to help you every step of the way to make this process more manageable. It is important that your doctor work with you to accurately diagnose your symptoms and tailor a unique treatment plan to fit your specific needs. We at Western Michigan Urological Associates want to work with you to find the best option for you and your family. Ask Your Primary Care Provider for a Referral.

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