Urethral cancer symptoms may be neglected at the beginning by most patients the fact that other conditions may cause the similar symptoms. At the genesis of the cancer, it can be completely asymptomatic, causing no symptoms at all. In addition, warning signs of urethralcancer tend to be variable.Some of urethral cancer symptoms include:
- Burning on urination (dysuria)
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Frequent or urgent need to urinate
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the groin area
- Discharge from the urethralopening or vagina
- Recurrent lump or thickness in the perineum or penis
- Bleeding from the urethra which causes presence of blood in the urine.
While these conditions can also be resulted from other medical conditions, they are typical symptoms of the disease. It is recommended to any individual to see a health care provider if he experiences any of the above problems.
Urethral Cancer Diagnosis
Due to the lack of specificity of the symptoms, urethral cancer diagnosis is often delayed, which worsens the prognosis. The diagnosis is based on physical exams, blood analysis, imaging techniques, and biopsies under anesthesia.
Physical exam: usually, the first step is a physical exam of the patient to search for signs of the disease and other medical conditions that cause the similar symptoms, such as lumps. A history of the patient’s health status and medical history (past illnesses, treatments…) will also be considered. In addition, the doctor will inquire about the symptoms, which are present in 94% of cases.
During the physical exam, it is possible for the physician to perform an exam of the rectum. During the procedure, the specialist inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the lower part of the rectum to search for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
If the cancer locates in the anterior urethra, the diagnosis is even easier. Obstructive symptoms aremost consistent. For instance, bleeding is present in 20-62% of cases, irritative symptomsin 20% of cases; presence of bloodin urine (hematuria) leads to diagnosis in 17% of cases; pelvic floor pain is present in 11-33% of cases of urethral cancer.
Clinical exam – Imagining techniques, such as CT scan (CAT scan) and MR,are also importanturethral cancer diagnostic procedures. Taking picture of the internal organ usually reveals urethral orperineal mass in up to 52% of cases. The lymph nodes are affected in 30% of cases. About 90% of metastatic lymph nodes can be seen and touched(palpable) by the patient. The initial clinical examination can be complemented by other diagnostic procedures, and coupled withurethrocystoscopy (or cystoscopy) and biopsy to accurately confirm the diagnosis.
Biopsy: this medical procedure is the key to search and confirm the presence of cancer cells in the urethra. During the procedure, the pathologist take tissue samples from the urethra, bladder, and, sometimes, the prostate gland to analyze under a microscope. The biopsy is generally performed under anesthesia.
Urethral cancer diagnosis may also include urinalysis, to check the color of urine and its contents, such as sugar, protein, blood, and white blood cells; Blood chemistrytests, to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body; and complete blood count (CBC), to determine the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, as well as the amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cells.