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Tests, Treatments and Therapies for Urologic Cancer at the University of Colorado Cancer Center

No individuals – or urologic cancer cases – are alike. As a world leader in cancer research, we use a vast array of resources to properly evaluate each situation and create personal treatment plans for every case we see.

From the initial diagnostic testing to the post-treatment follow-up, your expert medical team will be with you every step of the way.

To partner with our team of experts and create your individual treatment plan, call (720) 848-0170 to start your journey now.

Diagnostic Tests for Urologic Cancer

The following tests and procedures may be used to find and classify (stage) urologic cancer:


Biopsy – A sample of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope.Blood tests – Blood is drawn and measured for tumor markers.


Bone scan – A technique to create images of bones on a computer screen or on film. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into a blood vessel and collects in the bones, enabling them to be shown on the scanner.


Chest x-ray – A type of high-energy radiation used to diagnose diseases by making pictures of the inside of the body. They can show if you urologic cancer has spread to the lungs.


CT scan (computed tomography) – An X-ray procedure that creates detailed, highly accurate cross- sectional pictures of the prostate. A special contrast material, or dye, may be injected into a vein to help abnormal tissues show up more clearly.


Cystoscope – A doctor uses a small tube with a camera attached at the end to look inside your bladder.


Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) – Dye is injected into your bloodstream and an X-ray is taken to show the path of the dye. This helps determine the cause of blood in the urine.


MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or NMRI (nuclear magnetic resonance imaging) – A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body.


Physical examination – Helps doctors diagnose or find the cause of a patient’s symptoms and provides a standard way of monitoring any change in function throughout treatment.


Retrograde pyelography – This is similar to the IVP, but dye is injected into the ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder), making the lining of the bladder, ureters and kidneys easier to see.


Ultrasound – Uses sound waves to make an image of areas inside the body.


Urine culture – A urine sample is tested in a laboratory for the presence of infection-causing bacteria.


Urine cytology – A specialist examines a sample of your urine under a microscope, and looks for cancerous or precancerous cells.


X-ray – A type of high-energy radiation used to diagnose diseases by making pictures of the inside of the body. They can show if you urologic cancer has spread to the lungs or bones.


Treatment for urologic cancer varies greatly from person to person. Your medical team may use any combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, drug therapy, hormone therapy and biotherapy to treat or control your cancer.


Surgery is often the initial treatment for urologic cancer. A surgical oncologist who specializes in the removal of urologic cancer via surgery will perform an operation to remove areas affected by cancer.


Chemotherapy involves using drugs that slow down, damage or kill cancer cells. This may involve single drugs or combinations of drugs taken intravenously or by mouth. Chemotherapy is often taken in cycles lasting three or four weeks. Your team may also prescribe drugs and other treatments to reduce or eliminate the side effects associated with chemotherapy.

Radiation Therapy ("Radiotherapy")

Radiation therapy involves using X-rays and other types of medical radiation aimed at specific parts of the body. Radiation is used to kill cancer cells, prevent them from developing or recurring, and ease many of the symptoms caused by cancer. It can be used together with chemotherapy for certain cancers (this is called “chemo-radiotherapy”).

Anti-cancer Drugs and Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies are anti-cancer drugs or other substances that directly interfere with cancer growth and progression on a molecular level. They may be taken (with few side effects) on their own or in combination with standard chemotherapy. Many new targeted therapies, including vaccines and gene therapies, are currently in development.

Hormone Therapy

The presence of some hormones can cause certain cancers to grow. Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that removes hormones or blocks their action and stops cancer cells from growing. If tests show that the cancer cells have places where hormones can attach (receptors), drugs, surgery, or radiation therapy are used to reduce the production of hormones or block them from working.

Biologic Therapy

Biologic therapy uses your immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer.

Clinical Trials

Your medical team may also recommend that you participate in a clinical trial. The University of Colorado Hospital conducts hundreds of clinical trials in an ongoing effort to discover and deliver more effective treatments. They may offer access to drugs, vaccines and new kinds of treatment years before they are widely available.

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