Our team of urologists is here to provide treatment for all feminine urologic conditions, such as urinary tract infections, uterine prolapse, cancer, and many others.

Cancer in Women

Cancer is a disease that can affect anyone at any point in their life. It is important to be aware of the symptoms the patient is experiencing and to seek medical care in a timely manner so that treatment can be administered and remission can hopefully be achieved.

All types of cancer are categorized by stage, which represents how far it had progressed. There are four different stages:

  • Stage I – a tumor is less than 7 centimeters and limited to one part of the body.
  • Stage II – a tumor is more than 7 centimeters, but still contained within one area.
  • Stage III – a tumor has locally progressed, and the lymph nodes are affected.
  • Stage IV – a tumor has metastasized, or spread to other organs of the body.

Treatments for all cancers are determined based on the size of the tumor and how far the cancer has progressed. There are some forms of cancer that cannot be treated with surgery. When that occurs, other procedures to eliminate the tumor may be performed, such as cryotherapy or radiofrequency ablation. Radiation therapy may be used to kill and stop the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy is used for tumors whose cells divide quickly.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, occurs when malignant, or cancerous, tumors grow on the kidney. Most kidney cancers originate in the lining of the tubules, which are tiny tubes in the kidney. Although men are twice as likely to get kidney cancer as women, female patients are still susceptible to this disease, especially if they are over 40. Other risk factors are obesity, long-term use of pain medications, family history, asbestos exposure, and high blood pressure.

There are a number of kidney cancer symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood in urine
  • Lump in the abdomen or side
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Consistent pain in the side
  • Intense fatigue
  • Swelling in ankles or legs
  • Fever that lasts for weeks

This disease is typically diagnosed before it spreads, or metastasizes to other organs. At this point, it is easier to treat. A urologist will diagnose a patient with kidney cancer by asking about their health history, performing a physical exam, and running tests such as a urinalysis, blood test, ultrasound, and a biopsy. Other imaging tests may be performed to get a better view of the kidneys.

Treatment is dependent on how far the kidney cancer has progressed. Surgery is typically suggested, but the type of procedure recommended for a patient is contingent on their condition. There are three types of procedures suggested for the treatment of kidney cancer:

  • Partial nephrectomy – The cancer in the kidney is removed along with some surrounding tissue. This is for tumors that are less than 4 centimeters.
  • Simple nephrectomy – The affected kidney is removed.
  • Radical nephrectomy – The affected kidney, surrounding tissue, and adrenal gland is removed. The lymph nodes may also be removed. This is the most common surgical procedure for kidney cancer.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is the presence of abnormal cells that grow rampant in the bladder. Though men are more prone to bladder cancer than women, women often experience more serious cases. Women have more progressive tumors and poorer prognoses upon being diagnosed with bladder cancer. Though its cause is unknown, the presence of chemicals in the environment that can alter genetic material of bladder cells can be a factor, as well as smoking. Smokers are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as nonsmokers.

Bladder cancer symptoms include painful urination, recurring urinary tract infections, blood in the urine, and urinating frequently, but only in small volumes. If the bladder cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the patient may experience lower leg swelling, lower back pain near the kidneys, weight gain, and anemia.

A urologist will diagnose a patient through a physical exam, a urinalysis, and learning about the patient’s medical history, which includes their exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, smoking history, and family history. A cystoscopy may also be performed, which is how a urologist takes a biopsy of abnormal areas of the bladder.

Surgery is commonly used to treat bladder cancer. Tumors within the bladder can be removed by a transurethral resection (TUR), which is done through the urethra. A partial cystectomy is performed to remove the affected portion of the bladder. If the cancer invades most of the bladder, a urologist will execute a radical cystectomy to remove the entire bladder, a portion of the urethra, the lymph nodes, and other organs that are affected by the cancer.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer can affect one or both of a patient’s ovaries, which are the almond-sized organs that produce eggs and hormones. This type of cancer is often diagnosed once it has spread to other organs in the abdomen and pelvis area. Detecting ovarian cancer in this late of a state makes it more challenging to treat, and it is often fatal. As with most cancers, the earlier it is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat, and the better a patient’s prognosis is.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer consist of weight loss, constipation, frequent urination, pain and discomfort in the pelvis area, abdominal swelling or bloating, and feeling full upon eating. A patient should see a urologist once they begin experiencing symptoms. Imaging tests, a biopsy, and a blood test are performed to help the urologist determine whether the patient has ovarian cancer.

There are three types of ovarian cancer:

  • Epithelial tumors – This is the most common type of tumor, which originates in the tissue that lines the ovaries.
  • Stromal tumors – These tumors grow in the tissue that has hormone-producing cells.
  • Germ cell tumors – The egg-producing cells are affected by this type of tumor.

Surgery and chemotherapy are used together to treat ovarian cancer. For stage I ovarian cancer, the affected ovary and fallopian tube is removed, which allows the patient to still become pregnant. For more serious cases, a urologist will remove both ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and lymph nodes. If cancer has spread to other structures in nearby areas, a urologist will remove it as well. Chemotherapy typically follows surgery to eliminate any lingering cancer cells.

Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, affects a patient’s uterus, which is where fetal growth happens. Uterine sarcoma is another form of uterine cancer, but it is very rare. Endometrial cancer originates in the lining of the uterus, which is called endometrium. Patients are often diagnosed in its early stages, as it causes irregular vaginal bleeding. Other uterine cancer symptoms include pain in the pelvic area, bleeding after menopause, painful intercourse, and watery or blood-colored discharge from the patient’s vagina.

A urologist will use the results of a pelvic exam, ultrasound, and a biopsy to determine whether a patient has uterine cancer. After the patient has been diagnosed with uterine cancer, further tests are performed to determine how far it has progressed and how to best treat it. Most cases of uterine cancer are treated by the removal of the uterus, or a hysterectomy. During this procedure, a urologist may remove the lymph nodes to test them, which will indicate the cancer’s stage. After a patient has their uterus removed, they may undergo radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Women's Cancer Care at AUUA

The urologists of Academic Urology and Urogynecology of Arizona specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, regardless of what type it may be. We strive for early detection of cancer and successful treatment plans, which help our patients reach recovery and remission. Call us to learn more about the treatment options available at one of our seven convenient locations.

Call 623-547-2600 to schedule an appointment for a consultation with one of our Urologists and start restoring your pelvic health today.