Symptoms and Signs of Urethral Cancer

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 4/13/2022

Doctor's Notes on Urethral Cancer

Urethral cancer is a rare disease where one of three cell types found in the urethra (squamous, transitional, and glandular [resulting in adenocarcinoma] cells) develop into cancer cells. These cancers metastasize quickly to the lymph nodes and occur more often in men. Signs and symptoms may include

The cause of the development of cancerous urethral cells is not known; associated risk factors include a history of bladder cancer, STD infections (especially human papilloma virus type 16), and frequent urinary tract infections.

What Are the Treatments for Urethral Cancer (UC)?

This treatment may vary with the stage and location of the tumor. The treatments fall into three main types:

  • Chemotherapy: usually several drugs in combination to kill cancer cells; also, often used in combination with radiation therapy
  • Radiation therapy: may be used as primary therapy, combined with chemotherapy or after surgery to kill remaining cancer cells
  • Surgery: as primary treatment for non-metastatic UC, in combination with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy; there are four main types of urethral cancer surgery
    • Urethra-sparing
    • Partial penectomy
    • Radical penectomy
    • Pelvic lymphadenectomy with penectomy, cystoprostatectomy, and removal of the anterior pubis, plus, forming an ileal conduit for urinary diversion

Your urologic team of doctors can design a specific treatment plan that can address your condition.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.