How to Reduce Your Risk of Urologic Cancers

April 08,2022 |
Two women hula hooping on the beach.

Urologists are doctors who specialize in the urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. The urinary tract is a complex system that filters waste from the blood, produces urine, and stores and expels it from the body. It’s comprised of your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and a urethra. The male reproductive organs are responsible for producing, transporting, and storing sperm and its protective fluid, semen. It includes the penis, scrotum, testes, prostate, as well as the epididymis, vas deferens, and seminal vesicles. All of these organs and glands fall under the medical specialty of urology and can be subjected to problems throughout life. One of the most pressing concerns for individuals regarding these organs is cancer. While rare, it does occur. You can’t entirely evade the risk of cancer, but there are certain proactive measures you can take. Here, we’ll talk a little more about how to reduce your risk of urologic cancers.


Types of Urologic Cancers

Some urologic cancers can affect both men and women, while some are male-specific. There are several different types and prognosis is usually positive when they’re caught early. This is one of the main reasons why regularly seeing your urologist and general practitioner is so important. The sooner these cancers are caught, the greater the rate of survival. Some different types of urologic cancers include:

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer occurs when the inner lining of cells begins to mutate and grow sporadically. Once the mutated cells outnumber healthy cells, a tumor develops. There are five different types of bladder cancers that can develop, including urothelial carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, small cell carcinoma, and sarcoma. The most common type of bladder cancer is urothelial carcinoma.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney (renal) cancer is a type of cancer that develops within the kidneys. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type, although there are other forms that can occur. It can affect both men and women. When a child develops kidney cancer, it’s usually a specific subtype called a Wilms’ tumor.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of any type of cancer. Since prostates are gender specific, this only affects males. While the rate of incidence is high, catching prostate cancer early often leads to an extremely high survival rate. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, talk to your doctor and always undergo yearly prostate exams after the age of 40.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer can affect either one or both of the testes. It occurs due to abnormal cell growth that results in a small tumor, which is why undergoing regular self-checks is an important part of ongoing prevention. Testicular cancer is classified according to the type of cell that’s cancerous: germ cell tumors (GCTs) or non-germ cell tumors.

Urethral Cancer

This cancer occurs within the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from your bladder outside of your body. Men and women have different urethras due to basic anatomy, but the cancer can occur in either gender. Although rare, urethral cancer tends to affect men more often than women.

Penile Cancer

Another rare type of urologic cancer is penile cancer. It occurs when a group of cells within the penis begin to mutate, form a tumor, and change the color or shape of the penis itself. Individuals who have sexually transmitted infections are at a higher risk of developing penile cancer, so always see your doctor regularly if you’re sexually active and use condoms when you have multiple partners.


Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Risk of Urologic Cancer

While there are a few different risk factors for developing urologic cancer, there are certain activities you can do to reduce your risk. Genetics can play a role in developing cancer but doing everything you can to maintain a healthy environment and body will greatly improve your outlook as you continue to age. Some of the most important things to do to reduce your risk of urologic cancer include the following:

Quit Smoking

Smoking negatively impacts every single system in your body. The chemicals found in cigarettes reduce your body’s ability to repair DNA damage, which lowers your natural protection from cancer. Over time, this damage builds up and can contribute to higher rates of occurrence. While lung cancer is the most commonly associated smoker’s disease, cigarettes can and do increase your risk for urologic cancer. Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to improve your health and lower your risk.

Drink Plenty of Water

Hydration is particularly important for urologic health, which makes it no surprise that it can contribute to a reduction in risk for certain diseases. This is especially true in regard to kidney, bladder, and urethral cancer as water can help your body flush out harmful chemicals and bacteria that could contribute to cellular mutations. However, increasing your hydration for a short period of time won’t make a big impact. You need to make it a long-term lifestyle change for the biggest benefits.

Eat for Nutrition

While high-processed foods carry little to no nutrition, they also introduce dangerous additives into your bloodstream. By ingesting chemicals like preservatives and dyes, your body becomes less efficient at fighting off diseases naturally and cellular activity changes. Instead of opting for packaged food, try to maintain a diet that’s rich in whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. These foods provide you with a healthy dose of antioxidants without unnecessary additives or processed components. Similarly, there’s been some evidence that eating a diet low in fat can help reduce your risk of prostate cancer. While fat is still important for bodily functions, limit fats from red meat and dairy and instead consume primarily small portions from nuts, fish, or oil.

Exercise Regularly

Adults should be getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. This can help keep your cardiovascular system healthy, reduce blood pressure, and eradicate free radicals within your body. It’s been shown that exercise has an impact on the rate of urologic cancers, especially in regard to prostate cancer. If you don’t currently have an exercise regimen, talk to your doctor before starting something new.

Maintain a Healthy Weight 

Being overweight or obese is directly linked to a number of different cancers, including urologic ones. According to the American Cancer Society, excess body weight is thought to be responsible for about 11% of cancers in women, 5% of cancers in men, and about 7% of all cancer deaths. You can reduce your risk of becoming one of these statistics by working with your doctor to lose excess fat and maintain a healthy weight as you continue to age.

Limit Environmental Exposure

Like genetics, your environment has an impact on your risk for developing certain types of cancer. This is especially apparent for individuals who work in high-risk jobs like factories, industrial plants, or jobs with high levels of radiation. While it can be difficult to completely eliminate exposure if you have a certain career, take the proper precautions and use personal protective equipment when possible. The most impactful industries on urologic cancers include the printing, materials, painting, rubber, leather, and textile industries. Similarly, hairdressers, long-haul truck drivers, pilots, and flight attendants may have an increased risk of urologic cancer. While you don’t have to quit, be cognizant, see your doctor regularly, and try to live an otherwise healthy lifestyle.

Recognize Symptoms

Finally, although not necessarily a way to reduce the development of cancer, making sure you recognize symptoms of abnormalities can help improve your rate of survival after a diagnosis. Take the time to discuss potential symptoms with your doctor and if you notice anything that doesn’t seem right, seek medical attention. Even if it turns out to be nothing, catching things early is essential in the long-term treatment of urologic cancers. Men should perform self-checks regularly and see their urologist yearly for a digital rectal exam. Women should also visit their urologist yearly for a general checkup and preventative care.


When most urologic cancers are caught early, the survival rate is high. However, it does depend on the type, the aggressiveness, and the stage of the cancer itself. Survival rates also tend to depend on individual circumstances, which is why doing everything you can to live a healthy lifestyle is the best way to be proactive. If you’re diagnosed with a urologic cancer, your doctor will work with you to create a customized treatment plan that’s specific to your needs. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Regardless of if you experience a urologic cancer diagnosis or are suffering from another common urologic condition, Byram Healthcare provides supportive products to help you manage your symptoms.