What Is Urologic Cancer?

Urologic cancer actually refers to several diseases of the complex system that makes up the urinary tract. The kidney and urinary systems help the body eliminate liquid waste and keep chemicals—such as potassium and sodium—and water in balance. Types of urologic cancer include:

Bladder cancer

The bladder is the muscular reservoir in the pelvis that stores urine produced by the kidneys. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and the eighth most common in women, affecting nearly 75,000 Americans each year. Two-thirds of the cases occur in patients age 65 and older. The bladder is made up of several layers of tissue, but cancer most often starts in the innermost layer, the urothelial cells. Other cancers can also start in the bladder, but they are less common.

Kidney (renal) cancer

The kidneys are two large organs that are located to the left and right of the backbone. They filter impurities as well as excess minerals, salt and water from the blood. The kidneys also produce hormones that are important in controlling blood pressure and producing red blood cells. There are several types of kidney cancer, but the most common is renal cell carcinoma. Patients with von Hippel-Lindau syndrome are also at risk for developing kidney cancer.

Urethral cancer

The urethra is the tube that empties urine from the bladder during urination. In women, it is a short tube that opens in front of the vagina. In men, the urethra is about eight inches long and passes through the prostate gland and penis. Urethral cancer is comparatively rare but can spread quickly to nearby lymph nodes and tissue.

Prostate cancer

Cancer of the prostate gland is the most common cancer among men. Learn more about prostate cancer.

Testicular cancer

Cancer that begins in the testicles is the most common cancer among young men. Learn more about testicular cancer.