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Urethral cancer

Siamak Daneshmand, MD
Jason A Efstathiou, MD, DPhil
Section Editors
Jerome P Richie, MD, FACS
W Robert Lee, MD, MS, MEd
Deputy Editor
Michael E Ross, MD


Primary urethral carcinomas are rare but aggressive tumors that account for less than 1 percent of all genitourinary malignancies. Urethral cancer is not one malignancy but a spectrum of diseases with various histologies. The approach to management and prognosis depends upon gender, location of the tumor within the urethra, and extent of disease.

This topic will discuss the clinical presentation, evaluation, and treatment of urethral cancer.


An analysis from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database included 1075 men and 540 women with urethral cancer [1]. The age-adjusted incidence rate was 4.3 and 1.5 per million in men and women, respectively. The incidence increased with age, with a maximum of 32 per million in men and 9.5 per million in women aged 75 to 84 years. In addition to the higher incidence in men, urethral cancer was also approximately twice as common in African Americans as compared with Whites.

A European study from the RARECARE project identified 1059 cases over a seven-year period and estimated that there are approximately 650 new cases per year in the European Union [2]. The age-standardized rates were 1.6 and 0.6 per million in men and women, respectively.


Although the etiology of urethral cancer is not well understood, factors that have been associated with urethral cancer include:

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 18, 2017.
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