Skip to Main Content

Urethral Cancer


Call or click for an in-person
or virtual visit.


The urethra is the anatomical tube that carries urine outside the body from the bladder. In women, it's around 1-1/2 inches long; in men, it's about 8 inches long because it passes through the prostate and the length of the penis. Urethral cancer can affect any part of the urethra and varies between men and women.

Types of Urethral Cancer

Urethral cancer can affect any part of the urethra and varies between men and women. There are three types of urethral cancer:

Squamous cell carcinoma
This type starts in the cells that line the inside of the urethra. In women, it starts in the part of the urethra near the bladder. In men, it begins in the cells of the urethra that go through the prostate gland.

This cancer starts in the glands near the urethra.

Transitional cell carcinoma
In women, transitional cell cancer starts in the cells of the urethra closest to the outside of the body. In men, it starts in the cells of the part of the urethra that goes through the penis.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. The National Cancer Institute has recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.

More experience caring for urethral cancer. Our genitourinary specialists see the most cases of urethral cancer in South Florida. This experience allows us to provide improved outcomes and access to the most options for care.

Advanced radiation oncology tools. Our RapidArc® radiotherapy system delivers intensity modulated external radiation therapy (IMRT). These tools lead to more efficient and effective treatments, shorter treatment times, pinpoint accuracy in tumor targeting, and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

More cancer clinical trials than any other South Florida hospital. If appropriate for your cancer and stage, our clinical trials provide you with easy access to the very newest ways to treat and potentially cure your cancer.

One of only six designated Cancer Centers of Excellence in Florida. We treat cancer, and only cancer, giving you the best potential outcomes. The likelihood of surviving cancer after five years at a Dedicated Cancer Center is 17 percent higher than at other hospitals.

Multidisciplinary care teams with nationally recognized expertise. Your care team is made up of experts in all aspects of your exact type of cancer. All of your physicians, nurses, and more collaborate to save lives.

Imaging expertise using the most advanced technology available. Our providers’ expertise allows them to distinguish between normal and abnormal findings and work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan for the right diagnosis.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.


  • Surgery

    When it comes to urethral cancer, surgery is the most common treatment. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor from the urethra, so as much of the urethra as possible can remain to keep the best urinary control. Types of surgery include the following. Your doctor will discuss what approach may be right for your case.

    • Excision of the Tumor: Cancer and a small margin of healthy tissue around it are removed through an open incision or laparoscopically with the aid of robotic technology.

    • Transurethral Resection (TUR): The cancer is removed using a special tool inserted into the urethra.

    • Electro-resection with Fulguration: The surgeon removes the tumor with a lighted tool that has a small wire loop to burn the tumor away with high-energy electricity.

    • Laser Surgery: Using a narrow beam of intense light instead of a scalpel, the surgeon makes bloodless cuts into the tissue or to remove or destroy it.

    • Lymph Node Dissection: In this procedure, your doctor removes lymph nodes in the pelvis and groin.

    • Reconstruction: If the urethra is removed, the surgeon will make a new way for the urine to pass from the body. Some patients receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to ensure all cancer is destroyed.

  • Chemotherapy

    The purpose of chemotherapy is to shrink cancer cells that spread to other body parts. It also treats tumors that cannot be treated with surgery or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy might also help reduce a tumor's size before surgery.

    • If you require intravenous (infusion) chemotherapy, you can receive it at the Comprehensive Treatment Unit (CTU) at Sylvester's main location in Miami. It's a 12,000-square-foot unit that includes 33 recliners and 11 private rooms.

    • If you'd like, you can also have your infusion treatments at the Kendall, Plantation, Hollywood, Coral Springs, and Deerfield Beach locations.

  • Radiation Therapy

    This treatment is sometimes used before or after surgery. It can shrink a tumor, as well as treat cancer cells that can remain after surgery. If surgery is not possible, radiation therapy alone can be used in cases of urethral cancer. External radiation therapy precisely sends high levels of radiation directly to the cancer cells using a machine directed at the body. Sometimes, internal radiation therapy called brachytherapy can be used directly into the urethra to kill cancer cells.

  • Active Surveillance

    When the cancer is slow growing, or when treatment presents a high risk, this approach may be an option in some cases. It involves just regular monitoring of your cancer at scheduled follow-up appointments instead of immediately treating your cancer.


In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, procedures for diagnosing urethral cancer may include the following:

  • Pelvic Exam

    Women can have an exam of the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and rectum.

  • Digital Rectal Exam

    Both men and women may have this rectal exam. The medical provider inserts a lubricated, gloved finger inside the lower area of the rectum in search of lumps or anything unusual.

  • Urine Tests

    This laboratory test looks at a sample of urine under a microscope for abnormal cells, color, and contents, such as sugar, protein, blood, and white blood cells.

  • Blood Tests

    A blood sample can be taken and checked to measure the levels of specific substances released into the blood by tissues and organs, the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

  • Computed Tomography (CT or CAT Scan) 

    This scanning procedure takes a series of elaborate pictures of areas inside the body, such as the pelvis and abdomen, each taken from different angles. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly.

  • Ureteroscopy

    A ureteroscope is a thin, tube-like instrument. It has a light and a lens for viewing. It gets inserted into the bladder, ureter, and renal pelvis through the urethra. A tool may then be inserted through the ureteroscope to procure tissue samples or analysis.

  • Biopsy

    Your doctor may remove cell or tissue samples from the urethra, bladder, and, sometimes, the prostate gland for a pathologist to look at under a microscope to check for signs of cancer. After a diagnosis, additional tests may be done to determine any cancer spread.

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.