Urologic cancer

Urologic cancers affect organs in the urinary and reproductive systems, including the bladder, kidneys, testicles, and prostate. UCHealth specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. UCHealth provides comprehensive care—including screening tests and second opinion consultations at locations across the Front Range.

Urologic cancer: learn more

Team-based and family-focused care

At UCHealth facilities across Colorado, a multidisciplinary team of doctors and support professionals collaborates to develop the best plan of care for you, and they stay with you from your initial appointment through treatment and aftercare.

You receive doctor-managed care that emphasizes wellness and healing for you as a whole person. Our complementary and integrative medicine specialists may incorporate options such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and exercise consultation into your treatment. Your expert medical team members may include urologists, medical and radiation oncologists, nurse practitioners and nutritionists.

Precision treatment with da Vinci® robotic-assisted surgery

When you choose UCHealth, you gain access to surgeons skilled in the precision technology of robotic-assisted surgery with the da Vinci® Si system. This advanced technology enables our highly experienced physicians to perform minimally invasive procedures for urologic conditions using smaller incisions, more detailed images inside the body, and precise control of the instruments. For many patients, this means a faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay.

Detection and staging

Because no two people develop a urologic cancer in the same way, we offer a wide array of resources for proper evaluation of your situation—and we use that information to create a personalized plan that fits your specific needs.

Once a cancer has been diagnosed, our specialists need to know where it may have spread. This is the “stage” of the cancer. The lower the number, the less it has spread. Knowing the stage allows your medical team to determine the best possible treatment plan for you.

Tests and procedures

Any combination of these tests and procedures may be used to find and classify (stage) urologic cancer:

  • Biopsy. Removes cells or tissues for viewing under a microscope to check for signs of cancer
  • Blood test. Analyzes a sample of blood to help diagnose or treat a disease
  • Bone scan. Involves injection of a small amount of radioactive material into a blood vessel to create images of bones on a computer screen or on film
  • Chest X-ray. Uses a type of high-energy radiation to diagnose diseases by making pictures of the inside of the body; shows if urologic cancer has spread to the lungs
  • CT scan (computed tomography). Uses a type of X-ray to create detailed, highly accurate, cross-sectional images of the body
  • Cystoscope. Uses a small, lighted tube with a camera to look inside the bladder
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP). Uses an injectable dye and an X-ray to help determine the cause of blood in the urine
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or NMRI (nuclear magnetic resonance imaging). Uses a magnetic field instead of X-rays to provide detailed images of body structures
  • Physical examination. Helps doctors diagnose or find the cause of symptoms and provides a standard way of monitoring any change in function throughout treatment
  • Retrograde pyelography. Uses an injectable dye and an X-ray to follow the path of urine through the ureters from the kidneys to the bladder; similar to the IVP; makes the lining of the bladder, ureters and kidneys easier to see
  • Ultrasound. Uses sound waves to make an image of areas inside the body.
  • Urine culture. Tests a urine sample in a laboratory for the presence of infection-causing bacteria
  • Urine cytology. Examines a sample of urine under a microscope to look for cancerous or precancerous cells
  • X-ray. Uses a type of high-energy radiation to diagnose diseases by making pictures of the inside of the body that can show the location, size, and shape of a tumor and determine if urologic cancer has spread to the lungs or bones

Research at UCHealth also involves noninvasive ways to diagnose urologic cancer from urine, semen, and blood samples.

Treatments and therapies

Treatment for urologic cancer varies greatly from person to person. Your medical team may use any combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, drug therapy, hormone therapy, or biotherapy (biologic therapy) to treat or control your cancer.

Effective treatment approaches

Surgery

Surgery is often the initial treatment for urologic cancer. Specially trained surgical oncologists remove the cancer mass and other affected areas using the minimally invasive precision technology of the robotic-assisted da Vinci® Si surgical system. You also have access to surgical advances that include nerve-sparing prostatectomy and cryosurgery, also known as targeted focal therapy (TFT).

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs that slow down, damage, or kill cancer cells. It may involve single drugs or combinations of drugs taken intravenously or by mouth. Chemotherapy is often taken in cycles lasting three or four weeks each. Your team may also prescribe drugs to reduce or eliminate chemotherapy’s side effects.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy (radiotherapy) uses X-rays and other types of medical radiation aimed at specific parts of the body. The radiation kills cancer cells, prevents cancer cells from developing or recurring, and improves many of cancer’s symptoms. For certain cancers, radiation therapy is combined with chemotherapy and called chemo-radiotherapy.

Anti-cancer drugs & targeted therapies

Single drugs or combinations of drugs taken through intravenous injections or as prescribed tablets/capsules help fight the cancer itself or the side effects from chemotherapy. Drugs may be taken in repeating patterns (cycles) that usually last three to four weeks. Anti-cancer drugs or other substances that directly interfere with cancer growth and progression at the molecular level may be taken—with few side effects—on their own or combined with standard chemotherapy. Many new targeted therapies, including vaccines and gene therapies, are currently in development.

Hormone therapy

Because the presence of some hormones can cause certain cancers to grow, hormone therapy as a cancer treatment removes hormones or blocks their action to stop cancer cells from growing. If tests show that cancer cells can find places to attach (receptors), various treatments—drugs, surgery, radiation therapy—can be used to reduce hormone production or stop them from working.

Biologic therapy/immunotherapy

Biologic therapy, also known as immunotherapy, uses your own immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or in a laboratory—such as Provenge® or PSA Complex—are used to boost, direct, or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer.

Five-year urinary bladder cancer survival rates

Chart comparing all stages Urinary bladder Cancer UCHealth 43.8% survival rate to Colorado state average of 46.1%

Chart comparing stage 1 Urinary bladder Cancer UCHealth 62.4% survival rate to Colorado state average of 65.9%

Chart comparing stage 2 Urinary bladder Cancer UCHealth 46.4% survival rate to Colorado state average of 41.1%

 

Chart comparing stage 3 Urinary bladder Cancer UCHealth 40.5% survival rate to Colorado state average of 41.8%

Chart comparing stage 4 Urinary bladder Cancer UCHealth 15.6% survival rate to Colorado state average of 11.7%

 

Number of Patients Diagnosed – UCHealth 379 – State of Colorado – 1,165
Number of Patients Surviving – UCHealth 166 – State of Colorado – 537
*n<30, 5 Year Survival – (Date of diagnosis 1/1/2010–12/31/2014)


Five-year kidney and renal pelvis cancer survival rates

Chart comparing all stages Kidney and renal pelvis Cancer UCHealth 71.4% survival rate to Colorado state average of 67.9%

Chart comparing stage 1 Kidney and renal pelvis Cancer UCHealth 87.5% survival rate to Colorado state average of 84.7%

Chart comparing stage 2 Kidney and renal pelvis Cancer UCHealth 76.4% survival rate to Colorado state average of 79.1%

 

Chart comparing stage 3 Kidney and renal pelvis Cancer UCHealth 69.7% survival rate to Colorado state average of 67.0%

Chart comparing stage 4 Kidney and renal pelvis Cancer UCHealth 20.3% survival rate to Colorado state average of 10.1%

 

Number of Patients Diagnosed – UCHealth 693 – State of Colorado – 2,870
Number of Patients Surviving – UCHealth 495 – State of Colorado – 1,949
*n<30, 5 Year Survival – (Date of diagnosis 1/1/2010–12/31/2014)


Five-year gallbladder cancer survival rates

Chart comparing all stages Gallbladder Cancer UCHealth 18.3% survival rate to Colorado state average of 12.8%

Number of Patients Diagnosed – UCHealth 54 – State of Colorado – 206
Number of Patients Surviving – UCHealth 10 – State of Colorado – 26
*n<30, 5 Year Survival – (Date of diagnosis 1/1/2010–12/31/2014)

Five-year other biliary cancer survival rates

Chart comparing all stages Other biliary Cancer UCHealth 23.1% survival rate to Colorado state average of 14.6%

Number of Patients Diagnosed – UCHealth 120 – State of Colorado – 332
Number of Patients Surviving – UCHealth 28 – State of Colorado – 48
*n<30, 5 Year Survival – (Date of diagnosis 1/1/2010–12/31/2014)

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): National Library of Medicine. Insights into Urological Cancer (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827315/)

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). U.S. Cancer Statistics: Male Urologic Cancers (https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/uscs/about/data-briefs/no21-male-urologic-cancers.htm)