Cancer of the Ureter

What is Cancer of the Ureter?

Cancer of the ureter is located in the tubes that connect your kidneys to your bladder. These tubes are part of the urinary tract. They are used to carry the urine that is created by the kidneys, into the bladder.

Ureteral cancer is caused by the cells that are originally located in this area being exposed to carcinogens. The most common carcinogen that causes this type of cancer is tobacco smoke. However, cases have also been linked to chemicals used in industrial settings. It has also been found that a vitamin D deficiency can increase the likelihood of developing cancer of the urinary tract.

This type of cancer is not very common and usually occurs in older adults. It is also known to occur in people who have been treated for bladder cancer before.

The treatment for this condition is usually surgery, followed by chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

What are the Symptoms for Cancer of the Ureter?

The most common symptom of bladder cancer is visible, or microscopic blood in the urine. Other symptoms are irritable bladder and frequent urination. These are the most common symptoms. People who notice blood in their urine should see their doctor right away. This is because blood in the urine is typically caused by the presence of advanced cancer cells.

Some patients have reported feeling pain in the abdomen. After a CT urogram or CT scan using contrast medium, the cancer is found.

Even though these symptoms may be present, this type of cancer is typically caught on follow up examinations. This is especially true since most of the patients who experience this type of cancer have recovered previously from bladder cancer.

Cancer of the Ureter Causes

It’s not completely clear what causes cancer of the ureter, but it is thought that a contributing factor could be chronic irritation of the kidneys caused by exposure to harmful substances. The kidneys are responsible for filtering out waste and toxins from the blood and removing them from the body via urine. They can become damaged if exposed to harmful substances over a long period of time.

Pain medicines can be particularly harmful to the kidneys if used in excess. It’s also known that certain dyes and chemicals used to manufacturer rubber, plastics, textiles and leather goods can contribute to kidney damage, so individuals who work in the processing of these items could be at an increased risk. Finally, smoking is a major risk factor, since the smoke in tobacco contains a huge array of toxic chemicals and substances.

However, this doesn’t mean to say that everyone who regularly takes pain medicine, smokes and is exposed to harmful chemicals will develop cancer of the ureter. Furthermore, there are other risk factors associated with the disease, such as:


It is most common in those aged over 70


Twice as many men than women have the disease


It is more common in Caucasians than African-Americans

How is an Cancer of the Ureter Treated?

In many cases, treatment for cancer of the ureters involves surgery to remove the affected tissue. After the affected tissue is removed, your doctor will prescribe chemotherapy and possibly radiation therapy. This will assist in killing the remaining cancer cells that break lose during surgery.

After treatment, your doctor will schedule you to be scanned regularly to ensure that any re-occurrence is caught early on. If the cancer does come back, your doctor will immediately schedule you for chemotherapy right away.

Cancer of the Ureter Prevention

It’s unclear whether cancer of the ureter can be completely prevented, but it may be possible to reduce the risk of the disease. Individuals who smoke should strive to quit, as doing so will also help to reduce their risk of other cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

When it comes to pain-relieving medicine, it’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s advice in order to avoid excessive, long-term use where possible. This goes for both prescribed medications and those available over the counter.

Finally, individuals who regularly work with substances that could be harmful to the kidneys should wear appropriate protective equipment. This usually includes respiratory masks and eye protection.

Last Reviewed:
September 18, 2016
Last Updated:
November 22, 2017
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