Preserving quality of life after treatment is one of the main goals when treating these types of cancers.
Four main types of cancer can affect the urinary tract and a man’s reproductive organs.
- Prostate cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Testicular cancer
Prostate cancer forms in the tissues of the prostate. Except for skin cancer, this is the most common cancer in American men and most often affects men over the age of 65.
Most often, prostate cancer does not initially cause symptoms. By the time symptoms do occur, the disease may have spread beyond the prostate.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
- Inability to urinate
- Difficulty starting or stopping the flow of urine
- Need to urinate often, especially at night
- Weak flow of urine
- Urine flow starts and stops
- Pain or burning during urination
- Difficulty having an erection
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Frequent pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
According to the National Cancer Institute, each year in the United States, bladder cancer is diagnosed in 38,000 men and 15,000 women. This is the fourth most common type of cancer in men and the eighth most common in women.
Symptoms of Bladder Cancer
- Blood in the urine (making the urine slightly rusty to deep red)
- Pain during urination
- Frequent urination; or feeling the need to urinate without results
Kidney cancer develops most often in people over the age of 40, however, the exact cause of this disease remains unknown. Doctors can seldom explain why one person develops kidney cancer and another does not. However, there are certain risk factors that may increase your chances for developing this type of cancer.
- Smoking: Cigarette smokers are twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop kidney cancer. Cigar smoking also may increase the risk for this disease.
- Obesity: People who are obese have an increased risk for kidney cancer.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure increases the risk for kidney cancer.
- Long-term dialysis: Dialysis is a treatment for people whose kidneys do not work well. It removes wastes from the blood. Being on dialysis for many years is a risk factor for kidney cancer.
- Occupation: Some people have a higher risk for developing kidney cancer because they come in contact with certain chemicals or substances in their workplace. Coke oven workers in the iron and steel industry are at risk. Workers exposed to asbestos or cadmium also may be at risk.
- Sex: Men are more likely than women to be diagnosed with kidney cancer. Each year in the United States, about 20,000 men and 12,000 women learn they have kidney cancer.
Although doctors generally examine the testicles during routine physical examinations, most testicular cancers are found by men who notice changes in their testes.
Symptoms of Testicular Cancer
- A painless lump or swelling in a testicle
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
- Any enlargement of a testicle or change in the way it feels
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen, back, or groin
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
Infections, benign tumors, stones, or other problems also can cause many of the symptoms described above. Anyone with these symptoms should see a doctor so that a proper diagnosis and treatment plan can begin as early as possible.
Because Geisinger is a multispecialty group practice, Geisinger urologists have the opportunity to collaborate closely with specialists from other disciplines (Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Diagnostic Radiology, and Pathology) in order to offer state of the art treatment to our patients.
Surgical treatment: radical prostatectomy
One of the most common treatments for prostate cancer involves the surgical removal of the prostate gland, known as radical prostatectomy. Traditional radical prostatectomy requires a large 8 - 10 inch incision. This open surgery commonly results in substantial blood loss, a lengthy and uncomfortable recovery and the risk of impotence and incontinence.
da Vinci Prostatectomy, a less invasive surgical procedure
If your doctor recommends surgery to treat your prostate cancer, you may be a candidate for a new less invasive surgical procedure called da Vinci Prostatectomy. This procedure incorporates a state-of-the-art surgical system that helps your surgeon see vital anatomical structures more clearly and to perform a more precise surgical procedure.
Brachytherapy, Radioactive Seed Impants
Some men choose to have radiation and chemotherapy to treat prostate cancer instead of surgery. Geisinger offers seed implantation, one of many treatment options available.
Patients with kidney cancer who present for treatment at Geisinger will initially undergo a general medical assessment as well as any appropriate staging studies including CT or MRI scanning prior to specific treatment recommendations.
Geisinger urologic oncology specialists emphasize a minimally invasive and organ sparing approach to kidney tumors when feasible. Treatments offered include robotic laparoscopic radical nephrectomy, hand assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy, partial nephrectomy, and ablative techniques using energy sources such as cryosurgery (freezing) and radiofrequency ablation (heating) to eliminate tumors.
Geisinger’s Urologic Oncology Section is extensively experienced with cryosurgical approaches to kidney tumors and has presented its results at international and national meetings. The newer minimally invasive approaches often allow for patients to be discharged the day following their surgery and early return to normal activities. Occasional patients with locally advance tumors are still managed with traditional open surgery.
Geisinger urologists are extensively experienced with the management of patients with bladder tumors, both superficial and invasive. Patients with superficial tumors are usually managed with endoscopic resection and intravesical chemotherapy or immunotherapy with agents such as Mitomycin C, BCG, and Interferon.
Patients with invasive cancers may be managed with radical surgery to remove all or a portion of the bladder or by bladder sparing techniques combining endoscopic resection, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. For patients in whom removal of the bladder is advised, the option for construction of continent reservoirs that substitute for the bladder and allow voiding through the urethra is possible for appropriately selected patients.
Testis cancer is unique in that it is a malignant condition which commonly affects young men (ages 18 to 45). The initial management of this condition usually involves an operation to remove the affected testis. In patients with a solitary testis or bilateral disease, an organ sparing approach may be possible.
Further management depends on the result of clinical staging studies and analysis of the primary tumor pathology (biopsy) factors of importance. If surgery to remove the retroperitoneal lymph nodes is indicated, a robotic laparoscopic approach may be offered. If chemotherapy is indicated, Geisinger medical oncologists participate in national cooperative group trials to offer effective treatments that minimize side effects.
Physician Team Leaders:
frequently asked questions
How Are Genitourinary Cancers Treated?
Geisinger physicians customize treatment plans for patients with these types of cancers and use the latest techniques including prostate and renal cryoablation, laparoscopic and robotic surgery, pelvic floor reconstruction, and prostate seed implants.
What is Cryoablation?
This is a procedure commonly used to treat prostate cancer in which tissue is frozen to destroy abnormal cells. This is usually done with a special instrument that contains liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide.
What Are Prostate Seed Implants?
Prostate brachytherapy is the placement of radioactive seeds in the prostate gland and is a minimally invasive procedure requiring no open surgery. This outpatient procedure takes only a few hours, with most patients returning to normal activities within 2 to 3 days.
The goal of the treatment is to kill cancer cells with radiation while preserving healthy tissue. Doctors use the tiny radioactive seeds to target the tumor and to control the area exposed to radiation.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
Omar Yumen, MD, Geisinger's director of radiation oncology, describes options for prostate cancer treatment in addition to or following surgery.