How is upper-tract bladder cancer treated?

Karim Chamie, MD
Upper-tract bladder cancers are tumors in the collecting system of the kidney or ureter. The treatment for those noninvasive upper-tract tumors is to slip a small scope with a laser fiber to obliterate the small tumors, or grab them and pluck them out. This way, the removal of the kidney can be prevented. Chemotherapy should be instilled to prevent the cancer from recurring. Frequent screening of the kidney is necessary, as are frequent computed tomography (CT) scans.

If the upper-tract cancer is invasive, the entire kidney and ureter, down to the level of the bladder, may need to be removed. Systemic chemotherapy may be used prior to or after surgery. The same agents used for bladder cancer are used for upper-tract tumors, and it’s preferable to give chemotherapy while the person has two kidneys (i.e. before surgery). People tolerate chemotherapy better with two kidneys as opposed to one.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.