Urethral Carcinoma

By Daniel Walocha ‘19

Urethral Carcinoma (1).jpg
Figure 1. Urethral carcinoma is a highly invasive cancer that often metastasizes to other nearby organs and tissues.

Urethral carcinomas are not understood well enough to be mapped out for clinical and pathologic description. The cellular shape and function has been described to be squamous (flattened) and aggressive due to its ability to metastasize to distant organs. The mean survival and follow-up with patients offer a correlation between urethral carcinomas and human papilloma virus.

Dr. Miao Zhang et al. have offered a better description of urethral carcinomas. The cells observed from the proximal urethra, including those from the prostate are frequently secondary tumors that have originated in the bladder. The distal urethra, however, is more likely to be the site of secondary tumors that have originated in the vulva or the glans penis. A sample of 130 tumors from different patients were analyzed for differentiation, structure, and invasion using immunohistochemical staining and microarrays.

The study found that infiltration into adjacent organs and anatomical features was common, including that of the urogenital diaphragm, corpus spongiosum, and the corpora cavernosa. The tumors were usually poorly differentiated, as indicated by the high nuclear-to-cytoplasmic ratio. The dissections contained short, irregular fibrovascular cores that usually represent a combination of tumors and papillary structures arriving from human papilloma virus. The disease ended up fatal for 16 out of 95 patients, with a mean survival of 39 months.

The study elaborates on many aspects surrounding the prognosis and characteristics of urethral carcinoma. Future studies should look to classify the biochemical processes involved in urethral carcinoma signaling and compare those to that of other cancer.


  1. M. Zhang, et al. Carcinoma of the urethra. Human pathology 72, 35-44 (2018). doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2017.08.006.
  2. Image retrieved from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bladder_urothelial_carcinoma_histopathology_(3)_at_trigone.jpg

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