What is sarcoma?
Sarcoma (fleshy growth) is a rare type of cancer that starts in the cells of the connective tissues of the body.
What are genitourinary sarcomas?
Genitourinary sarcomas are rare cancerous (malignant) tumors that develop in the genitals or urinary tract. Genitourinary sarcomas are less than 5% of all types of sarcomas, and they tend to develop more in children than in adults.
Where do genitourinary sarcomas develop?
- The bladder
- The kidney
- The ureters (the tubes that drain urine from the kidneys into the bladder)
- The urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder to outside of the body)
- The male reproductive system (prostate, testicles, and penis)
- The vagina
How common are genitourinary sarcomas?
In general, there are 14,000 new cases of sarcomas diagnosed in the United States each year. No study has shown how many of these cases affect the genitourinary system. However, bladder sarcomas are the most common type of genitourinary sarcomas.
Bladder sarcomas tend to form in the area between the openings of the ureters and the urethra. But they can also develop in the entire bladder area.
Why do genitourinary sarcomas develop?
As with all other types of sarcomas, the causes of genitourinary sarcomas are unclear. The following factors may put you at a higher risk for developing sarcomas in general:
- Exposure to certain chemicals, such as phenoxyacetic acid in herbicides and chlorophenols in wood preservatives
- Exposure to higher doses of radiation
- Long-term bladder infections
- Taking certain kinds of pain medicines for a long time
- Certain inherited disorders and chromosome mutations, such as Hippel-Lindau syndrome and neurofibromatosis
Are genitourinary sarcomas staged like other types of cancer?
Yes, genitourinary sarcomas are usually graded low, intermediate, or high by the pathologist who examines the tumor tissue sample.
What are the signs and symptoms of developing genitourinary sarcomas?
There are no clear symptoms associated with genitourinary sarcomas in the early stages. However, you can feel a painless mass by touch. As the mass grows bigger and presses against the nearby nerves, you will start to feel some pain or soreness.
Symptoms of larger genitourinary sarcomas include:
- Blood in urine (hematuria) or trouble urinating
- Sores, discharge, or skin changes in the genital-urinary area