What is cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter?
Cells in the renal pelvis or ureter sometimes change and no longer grow or behave
normally. In some cases, changes to these cells can cause cancer. Most often, cancer
starts in urothelial cells that line the inside of the renal pelvis or ureter. This type
of cancer is called urothelial carcinoma (also called transitional cell carcinoma). It
makes up about 90% of all upper
Rare types of renal pelvis and ureter cancer can also develop. These include squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma of the renal pelvis or ureter.
Layers of the renal pelvis and ureter @(Model.HeadingTag)>
The walls of each renal pelvis and ureter are made up of 3 main layers of tissue.
The urothelium is the inner lining of each renal pelvis and ureter. It continues as the lining for the bladder and urethra. It is made up of urothelial cells (also called transitional cells), which can stretch and change shape as urine flows. The urothelium is also called the transitional epithelium.
The lamina propria is a thin layer of connective tissue that surrounds the urothelium of each renal pelvis and ureter. It contains blood vessels, nerves and
The muscularis propria is a thick, outer muscle layer of each renal pelvis and ureter. It is made up of muscle that works automatically without you thinking about it (called smooth muscle). It pushes urine from the kidney down to the bladder.
Other tissues that surround the kidneys and ureters are:
- adventitia – loose connective tissue that covers the kidneys and ureters
- fat – a layer of fat that surrounds the renal pelvis, kidney and ureter
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Feldman AS, Efstathiou JA, Lee RJ, Dahl DM, Michaelson MD, Zietman AL . Cancer of the bladder, ureter, and renal pelvis. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 65:896-916.
Macmillan Cancer Support. Ureter and Renal Pelvis Cancer. 2016: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/kidney-renal-cancer/ureter-renal-pelvis.
Martini FH, Timmons MJ, Tallitsch RB. Human Anatomy. 7th ed. San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings; 2012.
National Cancer Institute. Transitional Cell Cancer of the Renal Pelvis and Ureter Treatment (PDQ®) Patient Version. 2018: https://www.cancer.gov/types/kidney/patient/transitional-cell-treatment-pdq.