Transitional Cell Carcinoma

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Transitional Cell Carcinoma or TCC is a rare form of cancer. This cancer occurs in the transitional cells that line the ureter and the renal pelvis of the kidneys[1]. Like all cancers these tumours are graded - depending upon the grade of cancer in the patient determines methodology of treatments or potentially a combination oftreatments against thetumour. Patients with a grade 1 or 2 tumour are more likely to survive with an intervention of treatment compared to patients who have a grade 3 or 4 tumour[2].


There are several treatment options available to those with low-grade TCC tumours, while several other treatment options are currently undergoing clinical trials. The most common treatment offered is; surgery. Surgery further subdivides into two different forms which are dependent upon size and location of the tumour. In many cases, a nephroureterectomy will be performed in which a majority of the urinary tract will be removed in order to prevent localised spreading or growth of the tumour. However if the tumour is smaller and more localised within the renal pelvis then a segmental resection may be the more favoured procedure as this removes the section of the kidney that contains the malignant tumour as well as a small surrounding area of viable cells in order to also prevent localised growth and spreading[3].

Several treatments that are currently under clinical trial range from laser surgery to chemotherapy paired with biologic therapy. These newtherapies and treatments are designed to be more precise in destroying cancer cells within the organ and aim at using other methods rather than classic invasive surgery that is currently used. There has been research into the use of electric currents and laser beams in order to accurately target cancerous cells leaving behind more healthy viable cells in the process[4]. Clinical trial treatments are usually offered to patients with later stages of cancer such as stage 3 or 4.


  1. Written by Darla Burke and Medically reviewed by Christina Chun MPH Feb 22 2018 [accessed: 19/10/18]
  2. Prognostic factors, recurrence, and survival in transitional cell carcinoma of the upper urinary tract: a 30-year experience in 252 patients M.Craig Hall Sean Womack Arthur I Sagalowsky Thomas Carmody Mark D Erickstad Claus G Roehrborn Urology Volume 52, Issue 4, October 1998, Pages 594-601 [accessed: 19/10/18]
  3. Transitional Cell Cancer of the Renal Pelvis and Ureter Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version [Accessed: 19/10/18]
  4. Transitional Cell Cancer of the Renal Pelvis and Ureter Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version [Accessed: 19/10/18]
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