Ureter Cancer

Cancer of the ureter is rare. That’s why you need urology experts who are experienced in treating this type of cancer.

No one has more experience in New Jersey than Hackensack Meridian Health in performing robotic surgery for cancer of the ureter. We specialize in treatment that is minimally invasive and preserves your ureter, your kidney and your quality of life.

What is Ureter Cancer?

Bladder CancerCancer of the ureter occurs in the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. This rare type of cancer also can be found in the renal pelvis, the area where urine collects and is funneled into the kidney.

What are the Symptoms of Ureter Cancer?

You should talk to your doctor or see a urologist if you have any of the following symptoms, which may be a sign of cancer in the ureter or renal pelvis, or another urinary tract condition:
  • Cramping pain in your side or lower abdomen that does not go away
  • Blood in your urine, causing it to look orange, pink or dark red 
  • Burning and pain during urination
  • Urgent, frequent urination

Accurate Diagnosis of Ureter Cancer

Advanced testing by experienced urologists and uroradiologists is essential for a diagnosis of ureter or renal pelvis cancer. We use the latest imaging and digital ureteroscopy to make an accurate diagnosis.

You have access to the most advanced imaging technology at Hackensack Meridian Health. Our uroradiologists are radiologists who specialize in diagnosing conditions of the urinary tract, including cancer of the ureter and renal pelvis. Imaging tests may include:

  • CT  
  • MRI
  • CT Urography – CT with contrast dye to outline the structures of the kidneys, ureters and bladder
  • Intravenous Pyelogram – series of X-rays taken with contrast dye to outline the structures of the kidneys, ureters and bladder
 

Digital flexible ureteroscopy is performed in the operating room under anesthesia. The urologist inserts a long, thin, flexible tube with a small video camera into your urethra and passes it through the bladder into the ureters and renal pelvis. This allows the urologist to see the lining of your ureters, identify any tumors, and take some tissue biopsies for testing.

Hackensack Meridian Health offers the advanced flexible scope for patient comfort, with high-resolution imaging for the most accuracy and improved cancer detection. 

Testing your blood and urine can help determine cancer and non-cancerous reasons for your symptoms.

  • Urine Cytology: Urine is viewed under a microscope to identify any pre-cancer or cancer cells.
  • Urinalysis: Urine is tested for traces of blood and other substances that help diagnose cancer or another condition such as kidney stones or urinary tract infection (UTI). 
  • Urine Culture: Bacteria in a urine sample is allowed to grow to determine if a UTI, not cancer, is causing your symptoms.

Robotic and Minimally Invasive Ureter Surgery

The urologists at Hackensack Meridian Health are recognized worldwide as leaders in robotic surgery. We are highly experienced in robotic and minimally invasive surgeries for cancer in the ureter and renal pelvis. Our goal is to treat your cancer while removing the least amount of your ureter and kidney. Depending on the location and how advanced your cancer is, our team may perform one of these robotic procedures:

  • Segmental Ureterectomy: If the tumor is small and cancer hasn’t spread, we can remove the cancer and preserve the ureter and kidney.
  • Nephro-Ureterectomy: The kidney and ureter are removed, along with nearby lymph tissue and fat if necessary. 

Single Port Robotic Kidney Surgery

Our surgeons have taken robotic surgery one step further by developing a single-port approach, which means all surgical tools and camera are inserted through a single incision. Hackensack University Medical Center was among the first hospitals in the world — and the first in New Jersey — to use the da Vinci SP® single-port robotic surgery system for urologic surgeries.

Compared to traditional surgery, surgery for ureter and renal pelvis cancer with the da Vinci SP® single-port robotic surgery system offers:

  • One incision, and less tissue damage
  • Increased precision and flexibility for complex surgeries
  • Decreased blood loss, reduced need for transfusions, and less risk of infection
  • Less pain after surgery
  • Smaller external and internal scars
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery and return to normal activities

 
Learn More About Our Robotic Urology Surgery 

Other Treatments for Ureter Cancer

When it comes to treating your ureter cancer, our urology team will recommend the most effective treatment for your cancer while preserving your ureter and kidney whenever possible. We collaborate with specialists across John Theurer Cancer Center on state-of-the-art treatment methods.

Holmium laser can be effective in treating cancer if detected early or found only on the surface of the ureter.

The urologist inserts a long, thin, flexible tube with a small video camera called a ureteroscope into your urethra and passes it through the bladder into the ureters and renal pelvis. The laser is emitted through the tube and destroys cancer cells. 

Novel compounds have been shown effective in treating cancer that is found only on the surface of the ureter. Chemotherapy medications such as mitomycin and gemcitabine are installed through a catheter into the kidney, ureter or bladder to treat cancer and prevent recurrence. 

Chemotherapy uses medications to kill cancer cells. Our team of urologists works with medical oncology colleagues at the John Theurer Cancer Center to determine if systemic chemotherapy is appropriate for you. We offer the latest, most promising chemotherapy treatments designed to target ureter cancer, either:

  • Chemotherapy prior to surgery, to shrink your tumor or tumors.
  • Chemotherapy following surgery, to kill any remaining cancer cells and prevent recurrence.

Our Research and Clinical Trials

A hallmark of the care we provide is access to a wide range of clinical trials evaluating exciting new treatments, including studies not available elsewhere. We have a particularly strong program committed to Phase I clinical trials, the earliest phase of assessment of a new therapy in patients. For urologic cancers, we are evaluating novel biological agents as well as immunotherapy options that are changing the field. This offers our patients an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial, bringing the options of tomorrow today. Learn more about clinical trials for urologic cancers.

 Learn more about clinical trials for urologic cancers.

Why Choose Hackensack Meridian Health for Ureter Cancer Treatment

Record of Success 
Hackensack Meridian Health has the most experience in New Jersey performing robotic surgery for ureter cancer. This approach allows us to effectively treat your cancer while preserving as much of your kidney and ureter as possible.   

Nationally Recognized
Hackensack University Medical Center has been ranked the #1 Urology Department in New Jersey for eight years in a row by U.S. News & World Report and is the only urology department in New Jersey that is nationally ranked.

Awards & Accreditations | Year in Review

 
Our Doctors

Our award winning team of renowned surgeons, physicians, researchers and other health care specialists are able to provide you with exceptional urological expertise, advancements and cutting-edge technology to develop a highly- personalized plan for each and every one of our patients.

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