Urologic cancers involve the urinary system or any parts of the male reproductive system. Fortunately, these cancers can be detected early on, and when they are, full recovery is more likely as diagnosis and treatment options are easier and more promising early on. Here’s what to know about the genitourinary tract and what to do if cancer threatens it.
Get Regular Cancer Screenings
PCPs and urologists perform routine screening exams and tests for certain kinds of urologic cancers. A prime example is prostate cancer which often is asymptomatic but can be detected in its earliest and most treatable stage through annual digital rectal examinations (DRE) and blood tests. The PSA, or prostate-specific antigen test, reliably tracks the presence of cancer markers in the blood. Men ages 45 and older should get screened annually through their PCPs or urologists.
Screening tests for other urologic cancers include testicular self-examination which can reveal lumps and changes in the size and shape of a man’s testicles. The same method applies to penile cancer. As medical technology stands now, there are no blood tests to screen for either penile or testicular cancer.
Bladder cancer can be suspected when blood is found in a routine urinalysis and then additional tests, such as a cystoscopy or ultrasound of the bladder, may be performed. Symptoms such as painful urination and frequent UTIs also warrant further investigation.
Regarding kidney cancer, no screening test currently exists. This raises the question – how do urologists screen for cancers which have no easy blood tests or other methods of detection? The answer lies in identifying risks.
When you see your PCP and/or your urologist, you will discuss your medical history, lifestyle habits and family history of cancer and other diseases and conditions. Some lifestyle habits are red flags for urologic cancers, such as cigarette smoking and exposure to certain environmental toxins.
That being said, evaluation of your risk factors may lead your doctor to order imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound examination, of your genitourinary tract, to keep a sharp diagnostic eye on possible areas of concern. Together, you will agree to a plan of routine cancer screening which seems appropriate and prudent.
Get the Right Cancer Treatment
Urologic cancer treatment varies widely as do the kinds and staging of malignancies. The definitive diagnosis and staging of cancer comes from biopsy and imaging results. Treatment can involve:
- Open or robotic surgery
- Immunotherapy (which strengthens the immune system to combat cancer)
- Watchful waiting
Active surveillance of some slow-growing cancers, such as cancer of the prostate, can prove to be the most prudent and effective way to treat them.
Urologic cancer care begins with preventive strategies. To stay cancer- free and to recover from cancer treatment, your urologist will recommend some straightforward life habits such as:
- Smoking cessation
- Routine exercise
- A healthy, plant-based diet
- Limited alcohol intake
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day
Your Experienced Urologist in Phoenix, AZ
At Ironwood Urology, Dr. Desiderio Avila, Jr. is a highly experienced board-certified urologic surgeon who understands the importance of screening for cancer and for prompt, individualized treatments.
To learn more about urological cancers, call our office at (480) 961-2323 for a consultation with Dr. Avila, or request your appointment through our online form. Education is one of the best weapons we have in the battle against cancer.