Urological cancer affects the kidney and bladder, as well as the prostate and testicles. When you come to Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, you have access to highly skilled, experienced urological cancer specialists. We are leaders in the field of urological cancer treatment, developing innovative nonsurgical and surgical treatments that help you maintain a high quality of life.
We know that treating the cancer effectively is not enough. You probably have concerns about your life post-treatment, especially about possible side effects such as incontinence and sexual function.
Our team will use advanced techniques to minimize the impact of treatment and improve your life afterward. For example, we are pioneers in a unique bladder surgery method that creates a new bladder so you can urinate normally. Our team also has expertise in nerve-sparing procedures for testicular cancer and minimally invasive robotic surgery for removing kidney tumors.
Urological Cancer: Why Choose Vanderbilt-Ingram?
When you come to Vanderbilt-Ingram, you will find:
- Comprehensive, patient-focused care: An entire team of doctors, including surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists and pathologists combine their expertise just for you. They’ll discuss with you the most effective treatment solution for your needs, so you can enjoy a high quality of life. Patients often come to our center for a second opinion on their diagnosis and treatment options because of our extensive experience in cancer care.
- NCI-designated center: Vanderbilt-Ingram is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in middle Tennessee and the only one in Tennessee that treats adults and children. We offer the highest level of care backed by advanced research and science. We are committed to advancing the research and treatment of urological cancer.
- Pioneering treatments: We are developing innovative urological cancer treatments that aim to treat local cancer (cancer that has not spread to other organs) without surgery. Using highly focused radiation and cryoablation techniques, we can use less-invasive methods to effectively treat cancer.
- Unmatched expertise: Doctors from all over the world seek our advice on managing complex cases. We put this expertise to work for you, to find the treatment solution you need. At our regular tumor boards (cancer care meetings), our urological cancer experts discuss complex cases individually. Together, some of the nation’s leading cancer experts across medical disciplines collaborate on choosing a treatment plan.
- Robust clinical trials: Our clinical trial program offers access to approaches that are not yet available as standard care. Clinical trials often provide hope when traditional treatments are unsuccessful.
- Convenient services: All the care you need, from diagnostic imaging to treatment to support services, is available at Vanderbilt-Ingram. Our services include psycho-oncology (a psychologist who specializes in working with patients who have cancer), pain specialists and palliative care physicians who specialize in symptom management.
Urological Cancers We Treat
Urological cancers we specialize in at Vanderbilt-Ingram include:
- Prostate cancer: This cancer, which affects a small organ called the prostate that is part of the male reproductive system, is more common in men as they age. We offer the full spectrum of specialized treatment for men, from active surveillance to robotic surgery to chemotherapy.
- Kidney (renal) cancer: Occurring twice as frequently in men than in women, kidney cancer affects about 36,000 people each year ages 50 through 70. The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma.
- Bladder cancer: Almost 3 times more common in men than in women, bladder cancer develops either on the surface of the bladder or deeper inside.
- Testicular cancer: This cancer affects the testicles and is the most common cancer in men ages 15 to 35. We offer a range of treatment options, from targeted radiation and immunotherapy to nerve-sparing surgery.
Diagnosing Urological Cancers
We will begin your diagnosis by asking about your symptoms and medical history. This information is crucial to helping us shape your diagnosis, so be sure to tell your doctor everything, even if it seems minor. We will also perform a physical exam and order one or more diagnostic tests:
- Lab work: A simple blood test or urine sample gives us valuable information about your condition.
- Imaging scans: An X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan gives us detailed images of the affected area. These scans are noninvasive.
- Biopsy: To confirm a diagnosis, we may need to take a tissue sample from the area. We analyze the tissue in a pathology lab to determine if it is cancer. Depending on the type of biopsy, we will give you a sedative or anesthesia, so you will be comfortable.
Urological Cancer Treatment: Our Approach
We are one of the leading centers for urologic treatment, including surgery. Your customized treatment plan may include:
- Chemotherapy: Your doctor may suggest using strong medicine to shrink or destroy your tumor. We offer chemotherapy services at multiple infusion centers, so you can get care at the location that’s closest to you.
- Radiation: Your team will direct high-energy rays from a machine to target the tumor, using sophisticated technologies that are designed to limit the effect on normal tissue.
- Immunotherapy: Our team is among the most experienced and skilled in the nation in immunotherapy techniques. Immunotherapy activates the body’s own immune system to detect and fight cancer.
- Surgery: Advanced procedures for urological cancer include:
- Robotic surgery: We often use a sophisticated robotic surgery system to perform a radical cystectomy (full bladder removal). This minimally invasive procedure reduces side effects, recovery time and pain.
- Neobladder: If it is necessary to remove your entire bladder, our surgeons are pioneers in creating a neobladder. This bladder, formed from a length of intestine, allows you to urinate normally instead of using an external bag.
- Partial nephrectomy: We perform this intricate surgery for kidney cancer, in which our surgeons remove only part of the kidney and not the entire kidney.
- Nerve-sparing surgeries: For men undergoing surgery for testicular cancer, our surgeons have extensive experience in nerve-sparing surgery, so you can retain sexual function.
- Clinical trials: We are exploring cutting-edge methods to improve how we care for patients with urological cancers. At Vanderbilt-Ingram, you have the opportunity to participate in innovative clinical trials.
Comprehensive Post-Treatment Support
Cancer affects all aspects of your life, and it affects you even after treatments are completed. We offer robust support services – including a survivorship program and an integrative care center – to help you during treatment and in your life after treatment.