Urethral Cancer | Symptoms and Treatment | MedStar Health

The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body to be eliminated as waste. In women, the urethra is located above the vagina. In men, the urethra threads through the prostate gland and into the penis.

Urethral cancer is rare, occurs more often in women than men, and because it can grow quickly, it is often found in surrounding parts of the body by the time it is detected.


  • Blood in the urine

  • An inability to maintain a strong flow while urinating

  • Pain while urinating

  • Lumps in the groin and/or penis

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the groin

Diagnosis and treatment

Your MedStar Health doctor will ask for a complete medical history and will perform a thorough physical examination. Diagnostic tests may include:

  • CT scan

  • MRI

  • Laboratory analysis of urine to check for blood and/or cancer cells

  • Biopsy of the urethra or surrounding tissue to check for cancerous growths

  • Digital Rectal Examination (DRE): By inserting a gloved finger into the rectum, your doctor can examine the prostate gland; the size, shape, and any irregularities will be noted

  • Cystoscopy: While looking through a cystoscope inserted into the urethra, your doctor is able to determine if tumors or other signs of disease are present

After careful physical examination of your body, as well as your diagnostic tests, your doctor will create an individualized treatment program that is right for you. Your doctor may recommend:

These three approaches together serve as the model for multi-disciplinary care in the treatment of urethral cancer.

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