Cancer of the ureter is cancer that develops in the cells that line the inside of the tubes that connect your kidneys to your bladder (ureters). Ureters are part of your urinary tract, and they carry urine produced by your kidneys to your bladder. It is essentially the same kind of malignancy as bladder cancer, and people who have been treated for bladder cancer are at a higher risk for developing the disease.
Cancer of the ureter is uncommon. Between 1988 and 2001, there were only 1,333 cases of ureteral cancer documented in the United States. The disease affects men more often than women and is more common in people older than 65. The five-year survival rate is 5 percent or less.
Symptoms may include any of the following:
- Back pain, most often where your ribs and spine meet,
- Bloody urine,
- Burning, pain, or discomfort with urination,
- Dark, rust-colored, or brown urine,
- Flank pain,
- Unintentional weight loss, and/or
- Urinary frequency or urgency.
Transitional cell carcinoma is a common cause of ureter cancer and other urinary (renal pelvic) tract cancers. Risk factors include prolonged misuse of certain pain medications; smoking cigarettes; exposure to certain dyes and chemicals used in making leather goods, textiles, plastics, and rubber; and a history of bladder cancer.
Tests used to diagnose ureteral cancer include:
- Abdominal CT scan,
- Chest x-ray,
- Cystoscopy with ureteroscopy,
- Intravenous pyelogram (IVP),
- Kidney ultrasound,
- Abdominal MRI, and/or
- Renal scan.
Treatment options vary. Surgery to remove all or part of the kidney (nephrectomy) is usually recommended. This may include removing part of the bladder and tissues around it, or the lymph nodes. If the tumor is in the ureter, it may be possible to remove it while preserving the kidney.
When the cancer has spread outside of the kidney or ureter, chemotherapy often is used.
Treatment outcomes will vary depending upon the location of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread. Cancer that is only in the kidney or ureter often can be cured with surgery. Cancer that has spread to other organs usually is not curable.
Social Security Administration POMS: DI 23022.345 – Ureteral Cancer
Ureteral cancer that is inoperable, unresectable, recurrent, or with metastases to the regional lymph nodes meets Social Security Administration (SSA) Medical Listing 13.21. Establishing disability under the SSA will require a pathology report and an operative report, which are preferred methods of documentation. A physician’s opinion indicating your cancer is inoperable or unresectable may be acceptable in the absence of a pathology or operative report.
Ureteral cancer is listed under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance Program, which was launched in 2008 to expedite certain disability claims. Applying for disability benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Program requires the same procedure every applicant must follow when applying for SSA disability benefits; however, you will be notified if your condition is being considered as a compassionate allowance.
Your representative can help determine whether your ureter cancer has reached the severity level necessary for a successful disability claim. He or she may be able to help expedite your claim if you have a diagnosis of ureteral cancer.