Urologic cancer is a term that includes cancers of the urinary tract and the male reproductive tract. Cancers of the female reproductive system are a separate category that’s referred to as gynecologic cancers.
The Tower Health team brings together a multidisciplinary group of oncology experts who are highly skilled in treating all types of urologic cancers. This group of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, urologists, nephrologists, and gynecologic oncologists join together to share their expertise. And because you’re the most important part of the team, we work with you to personalize your treatment based on your unique needs.
Types of Urologic Cancer We Treat
- Bladder cancer. This disease forms in the bladder and affects men much more often than women. Seventy-three is the average age when it’s diagnosed.
- Kidney cancer. The condition forms in the lining of the tiny tubes that are inside your kidneys. A diagnosis of the disease becomes more likely as you get older.
- Penile cancer. This disease occurs when cancer cells form in the tissues of the penis.
- Prostate cancer. The disease forms in this gland, which is located below a man’s bladder and produces fluid for semen. This form of cancer is common among older men and is rare in men 40 and younger.
- Testicular cancer. The disease mainly develops in men between the ages of 20 and 39. It can form in one or both testicles.
- Urethral cancer. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder, where it leaves the body. Cancer cells form in the tissues of the urethra.
Diagnosing Urologic Cancers
We use advanced tools and methods to diagnose urologic cancers.
- Biopsy. This test removes a small amount of tissue to be examined under a microscope. If a suspected cancer is found on an endoscopy or imaging test, it is biopsied.
- Endoscopic procedure. This test uses a flexible, lighted tube (endoscope) to view different parts of the patient’s body and diagnose diseases. Typically, an endoscope also allows the doctor to use tools to collect tissue or provide treatment. To diagnose urologic cancers, the doctor may use:
- Cystoscopy. This is used to see the inside of the bladder and urethra.
- Proctoscopy. A special metal or plastic scope is used to check the inside of the rectum.
- Intravenous pyelogram (IVP). This test uses an X-ray and dye to show images of your kidneys, bladder, and ureters.
- Lab tests. These include examining blood or urine samples to measure antibodies; testing the thickness of the blood; and measuring the number and percentage of cells in a sample.
- Renal ultrasound. This ultrasound is a noninvasive exam that uses ultrasound waves to show images of your kidneys.
- Tumor marker test. A sample of blood, urine or tissue is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances made by organs, tissues, or tumor cells in the body.
- Transrectal ultrasound. This test is most often used to examine the prostate. The ultrasound image shows the prostate’s size and any areas that look abnormal, such as tumors. This test is normally not the only tool used to diagnose prostate cancer.
Treating Urologic Cancers
A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing condition. Your care team is here to help you take charge and manage it effectively with the most advanced treatments for urologic cancers. Your care plan will be custom-made to treat your specific type of cancer to deliver results that help you get back to your life. Treatments may include (in alphabetical order):
- Chemotherapy. Also called chemo, this treatment can cure or help control cancer and ease its symptoms. Chemo treatments use specialized medicines to kill cancer cells. Our locations provide chemotherapy infusions in comfortable, private bays that are supported by highly trained infusion nurses.
- Hormone therapy. Some cancers test positive for certain hormones that can be treated with hormone-blocking therapy. This treatment can slow or stop the cancer cells from growing or metastasizing.
- Immunotherapy. Your immune system protects your body from illness and harmful foreign substances. Immunotherapy is a form of precision medicine we offer that boosts your body's immune system - helping it recognize and attack cancer cells.
- Interventional radiology (IR). This minimally invasive, image-guided technique treats cancers that only open surgery used to be able to address. These treatments include:
- Chemoembolization. This delivers cancer-killing medicine through a tube to the affected organ.
- Cryoablation. Extremely cold temperatures are used to freeze the tumor.
- Radiofrequency ablation. Transforms an electric current into heat to destroy the tumor.
- MRIdian® MRI-Guided Radiation Therapy. One of the newest and most important advances in radiation therapy is the MRIdian® MRI Linear Accelerator at Reading Hospital — the first to be used in Pennsylvania. The system significantly enhances tumor radiation treatment by precisely targeting the tumor in real-time. This is critical because tumors can shift and move even slightly with subtle natural movements such as when the patient breathes or is digesting food. The MRIdian® offers safer treatment by lessening radiation exposure to healthy tissues and exposure to nearby organs.
- Radiation therapy. This treatment can be used by itself, with surgery, chemotherapy or both. It’s a pain-free treatment that shrinks or destroys cancer cells while still protecting healthy tissue. Your team will guide you to one of our sophisticated forms of radiation treatment, which include image guided radiation therapy (IGRT), intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), such as the CyberKnife.
- CyberKnife: The CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System is a painless, noninvasive, outpatient cancer treatment with minimal to no side effects. Your specialist can zero in on the target tumor and irradiate it without harming the surrounding healthy tissue.
- Surgical tumor removal and organ resection. Our skilled surgeons use the latest laparoscopic, minimally invasive, and robotic surgeries to treat or remove cancerous cells. These techniques include:
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT). Uses light-sensitive medicine and a light source to destroy cancerous cells.
- Resection surgically removes part or all of a tissue, structure, or organ that is known to be cancerous to treat or cure the disease.
- Targeted therapy. A type of treatment that targets certain proteins on cancer cells that control how the cells grow and spread. Based on your type of cancer, our medical oncologists can test a cancer cell and its potential reaction to medicine. We test tumors to see if it contains targets and determine if there is medicine available to fight those targets.