Genitourinary Cancer Treatments
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UT Southwestern Medical Center’s team of genitourinary cancer experts provides state-of-the-art genitourinary cancer treatments such as minimally invasive options that preserve each patient’s quality of life.
Based on the diagnosis, we work with patients to develop a treatment plan that’s best for them.
Treatment with Medications
For some patients with genitourinary cancers, chemotherapy or other drug therapies are the best course of treatment.
Many factors, such as tumor location and stage, as well as the patient’s overall health, preferences, goals, and ability to tolerate different drugs, help doctors determine the most appropriate drugs or other treatment strategy.
UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center’s experienced medical oncologists – physicians who specialize in treating cancer with chemotherapy and other drugs – include specialists who exclusively treat patients with genitourinary cancers. Medical therapies include chemotherapy and personalized drug therapies.
The goal of chemotherapy is to kill the cancer cells that make up the genitourinary tumor. Chemotherapy can be used alone, before or after surgery, or in addition to radiation therapy to destroy remaining tumor cells and far-flung cancer cells that could cause the disease to recur.
Chemotherapy sometimes is combined with radiation therapy (chemoradiation) to treat genitourinary cancer, such as in cases when tumors don’t respond to chemotherapy alone or cannot be removed entirely with surgery. Chemoradiation is also an option for some patients who wish to avoid surgery altogether or are not good candidates for it.
Personalized Drug Therapies
Several targeted drugs kill certain types of genitourinary cancer cells based on a tumor’s unique molecular makeup. The cellular characteristics of some tumors can help physicians predict whether the disease will respond well to the treatment in specific patients.
Tumor analysis at the cellular level is another way UT Southwestern specialists can personalize medical therapies. Our researchers are making important strides in understanding how kidney cancer develops, for example, and we’re working to translate our research findings into new therapies that target the disease’s molecular pathways.
UT Southwestern has one of the most advanced programs in the country for radiation therapy treatment of genitourinary cancers.
Our physicians pioneered the five-treatment stereotactic radiation regimen for early- and intermediate-risk prostate cancer that is being adopted at many progressive centers worldwide. We’re now evaluating the regimen for the treatment of patients with high-risk prostate cancer.
The stereotactic radiation approach is also being applied effectively to treat small kidney cancers and a deadly complication of kidney cancers in which the tumor extends into the veins (inferior vena cava tumor thrombus).
Additionally, our physicians are leading an effort to combine stereotactic radiation therapy with immunotherapy – to stimulate the body’s own immune system to react against metastatic prostate and kidney cancers.
We also offer brachytherapy treatments, which involve implanting tiny radiotherapy seeds about the size of a grain of rice that are able to destroy cancer cells while leaving the rest of the body unharmed.
Working closely with our oncology imaging colleagues, UT Southwestern’s surgical team uses minimally invasive procedures whenever possible to treat genitourinary cancers.
Procedures such as laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery are effective alternatives to traditional open surgery techniques.
- Laparoscopic surgery (keyhole surgery): Uses several half-inch incisions instead of one long incision to remove tumors and other cancerous tissues.
- Robotic surgery: Enhances precision by offering 3-D imaging, reducing surgeon tremor, and eliminating the inverted manipulation of instruments usually required in laparoscopic procedures. The technology and the UT Southwestern physicians who use it are the most advanced in the field.
Smaller incisions mean fewer risks and quicker recovery, allowing patients who need further treatment, such as chemotherapy, to get it sooner – which can significantly impact the overall success of treatment for genitourinary cancer.
Disease-Specific Surgery Techniques
Robotic surgery is used widely for prostate cancer, as well as for many cancers of the kidney and bladder and early cases of testicular cancer. Even partial kidney removal, a highly complex procedure, can now be done robotically in the hands of an experienced surgeon.
When robotic surgery isn’t an option, UT Southwestern surgeons also are experienced in traditional approaches. Our team is a leader in single-port surgery, a procedure done with only a few incisions at the navel. Jeffrey Cadeddu, M.D., was the first U.S. surgeon to remove a patient’s kidney using this approach.
UT Southwestern offers clinical trials that can provide patients with an opportunity to complement traditional therapy for genitourinary cancer with the newest, most promising treatment strategies. Patients should speak with their doctors about clinical trials.