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Urological (Genitourinary) Cancers

Urological (Genitourinary) Cancers and its Treatment

What is cancer?
Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells which tend to proliferate in an uncontrolled way. Usually normal cells divide in an orderly way. They die when they are worn out or damaged, and new cells take their place. Cancer is when the cells start to proliferate exponentially and grow out of control. These cells eventually crowd out normal cells and form a mass of tissue, called a tumor. Cancer can affect any part of the body and can spread to other parts of the body. When cancer cells spread, it’s called metastasis.

What are the causes or risk factors of cancer development?
Causes or risk factors of cancer development can be broadly divided into the following groups: 1. Biological factors- such as age, gender, inherited genetic defects and family history of certain cancers. 2. Lifestyle-related factors- consumption of tobacco products and alcohol, Obesity and dietary factors. 3. Environmental exposure- UV radiation and carbon particles. 4. Occupational risk factors- many chemicals, radioactive materials and asbestos. 5. Infectious causes- Human Papilloma virus (HPV) 6. Carcinogens: The substances that cause cancer are called carcinogens.

What is oncology?
Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

What is Uro-oncology/ genito-urinary oncology?
Uro-oncology/ genito-urinary oncology is a specialized field in oncology, focusing on cancers found in the urinary and the male reproductive organs. These include prostate cancer, kidney cancer, adrenal tumors, bladder cancer, testicular cancer and cancers of the penis. Urologist who specializes in the management of genito-urinary cancers is called Uro-oncologist.

How common are the Genito-urinary cancers?
Tumors of the genitourinary system are one of the most common tumors encountered in clinical practice, especially in Indian subcontinent. Increased screening programmes, improved cancer awareness in general population and with the advent of newer imaging modalities; the cancers of Genito-urinary system are being detected at early stages.

Is cancer curable?
Most of the cancers are curable if they are detected at initial stages or lower grades. Few can be treated even at relatively later stages with multiple treatment modalities. Cancers at very late stages are difficult to be cured; however quality of life can be improved with palliative and supportive care.

How to diagnose the cancer at early stage?
Early detection of cancer significantly increases the chances for successful treatment. Some signs of cancer include lumps/ swellings, sores that fail to heal, blood in the urine, unexplained loss of weight and loss of appetite. However for all practical purposes most of the cancers, genito-urinary cancers in particular, are silent in initial stages. These can only be detected with screening or regular health check. Kidney, adrenal, bladder and testicular cancers can be detected by scans, Prostate cancer can be detected by serum PSA (Prostate specific antigen) test and penile cancers can be diagnosed by clinical examination. Once suspicious lesions detected, confirmation can be done by tissue biopsy (Piece of tissue for microscopic assessment; i.e. needle biopsy of prostate, endoscopic biopsy for bladder and edge biopsy for penile cancers. At times entire tumor is removed and sent for microscopic examination ex: kidney cancers, bladder cancers and testicular cancers.

Is it possible to remove only the tumor without sacrificing the entire affected organ?
Yes. We at AINU strongly believe in preserving the affected organ as much as possible at the same time completely removing the tumor. In other words; our goal of treatment is not only to achieve good oncological outcome but also a fair functional out come. For example, we try to preserve as much kidney as possible for kidney cancers. This procedure is called partial nephrectomy. Similarly we routinely perform various organ preserving surgeries such as, endoscopic resection of bladder tumor and partial cystectomy for urinary bladder cancers; partial penectomy, glansectomy and local excision of penile cancers; rarely testis sparing surgery for small testicular tumors. However these procedures are considered in only special circumstances and as per the discretion of surgeon.

Is it possible to perform cancer surgeries by minimal invasive techniques, avoiding big incisions?
Yes. Our institute has got experienced and distinguished surgeons, reputed for laparoscopic as well as robotic surgeries. Most of the cancer procedures at our hospital are being done by minimal invasive techniques, which can limit the size of incisions needed and so less blood loss, lessen wound healing time, associated pain and risk of infection. Eventually this helps in early and comfortable post-operative recovery.

What are the treatment facilities available for genitourinary cancers at AINU?
Asian Institute of Nephrology and Urology is renowned for minimally invasive surgeries (laparoscopic as well as robotic procedures) for cancer treatment. It served many genito-urinary cancer patients not only from this region but also from several parts of the country. AINU is also one of the most sought after hospitals for medical tourism.