BiopsyA medical test in which body tissue or cells are studied to look for a disease and figure out how dangerous that disease might be. A biopsy usually involves a minor operation to get a sample of body tissue and cells to be studied.
CatheterA thin, flexible tube.
Chronic kidney diseaseA disease in which your kidney or kidneys are not working as well as they should be. Many people suffer from chronic kidney disease. If it gets bad enough, a machine might be needed to filter the blood (dialysis), or the person might need a kidney transplant.
EndoscopeA tool used to look inside the body. Urologists use a certain type of endoscope, called a ureteroscope, to see where tumors are located. It also lets them see what they’re doing during endoscopic procedures.
Endoscopic management/endoscopic resectionMinor operations that a urologist does to remove UTUC tumors. These operations can be done using a laser, forceps, or another surgical tool. They’re always done using an endoscope, which lets the urologist see inside the body during the operation.
ForcepsA tool used to remove tumors or tumor tissue during an endoscopic procedure. Ureteral forceps have tiny pinchers (similar to tweezers) at the end of a long, skinny tube.
GradeThe term used to describe how likely cancer cells are to grow and spread. Low-grade UTUC usually grows slowly and is less likely to spread than high-grade UTUC.
High gradeThe term used to describe cancer cells that are more aggressive and are more likely to spread to other parts of the organ or other parts of the body.
High riskThe term used to describe cancer that is more dangerous. The risk of UTUC usually depends on grade, stage, tumor—size, location, and number of tumors—and the overall health of the person.
Low gradeThe term used to describe cancer cells that are less aggressive and are less likely to spread to other parts of the organ or other parts of the body.
Low riskThe term used to describe cancer that is less dangerous. The risk of UTUC usually depends on grade, stage, tumor—size, location, and number of tumors—and the overall health of the person.
Lynch syndromeA condition that is passed down through families and increases a person’s risk for several types of cancer.
Nephroureterectomy (NU)The medical name for the surgery that is done to remove a kidney, ureter, and a small part of the bladder. This could also be called a radical nephroureterectomy, or RNU.
Radical nephroureterectomy (RNU)The medical name for the surgery that is done to remove a kidney, ureter, and a small part of the bladder. This could also be called a nephroureterectomy, or NU.
Renal cell cancer/renal cell carcinoma (RCC)A type of cancer that happens in the kidneys. Some people get this type of cancer confused with UTUC, so be sure to ask your urologist which one you have.
The term used to describe how dangerous the cancer is. The risk of UTUC usually depends on grade, stage, tumor—size, location, and number of tumors—and the overall health of the person.
It can be hard to know what stage UTUC is. Your urologist might not always be able to tell.
This term is used to describe how deep the cancer has grown into the tissue of the organ. The stage of your cancer could be anywhere from 0 to 4. UTUC that is stage 0 is right on the surface of your urothelium. UTUC that is stage 4 has grown deep into your kidney or ureter and has also spread to another part of your body.
Urologists usually think about UTUC as low risk or high risk. Low-risk UTUC is not considered as dangerous as high-risk UTUC.
Upper tract urothelial cancer/upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC)
A cancer that happens in the lining of the upper part of the urinary tract, in the kidneys or ureters. Your urologist might call this type of cancer by other names, such as:
- Cancer of the upper urinary tract
- Upper tract urothelial carcinoma
- Kidney cancer
- Renal pelvis cancer
- Ureteral cancer
- Urinary tract cancer
- Upper tract cancer
- Cancer in the lining of the kidney
Upper urinary tractThe top half of the urinary tract. This is the name used to refer to the kidneys and ureters.
Upper urinary tract cancerAnother name for UTUC.
UreterThe tube-shaped part of the urinary tract that moves urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The human body has 2 ureters, each connecting a kidney to the bladder.
UretroscopeA tool used to look inside the body. A ureteroscope is a type of endoscope, and urologists use it to see where tumors are located. It also lets them see what they’re doing during endoscopic procedures.
UrethraThe bottom part of the urinary tract. When you urinate, the urine leaves the body through the urethra.
Urinary tractThe name for the body parts that work together to collect, store, and remove urine from the body. Those body parts include the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder, the urethra, and many muscles and nerves.
UrologistA doctor who specializes in treating conditions of the urinary tract.
Urothelial cancer/urothelial carcinomaA cancer that happens in the urinary tract. It’s called urothelial because it usually happens in the urothelium, which is the tissue that lines the inside of the urinary tract. Your urologist might simply call it urinary tract cancer.
UrotheliumThe tissue that lines the inside of the urinary tract. Most urothelial cancer happens in the urothelium.
Glossary of key terms
Are any of the words on this website unfamiliar? This glossary helps explain what these medical terms mean.