​Transitional Cell Cancer (Kidney)​​


Transitional cell cancer develops in the transitional cells that are specific type of cells that line the ureter, renal pelvis and the bladder. These organs are part of the urinary system. The ureter is a tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. There is one ureter connected to each kidney and enlarged upper end of the ureter is called the renal pelvis. The urine collects in the renal pelvis and is drained into the bladder through the ureter. 

Transitional cell cancer of the kidney occurs in the transitional cells present in the kidney. It is extremely rare and the exact cause behind it is unknown. There are a number of factors that can increase your risk, including:

  • Smoking

  • Genetic factors

  • Working with certain chemicals such as industrial dyes, rubber, plastics, aluminum and pesticides

  • Abuse of particular pain medicines for an extended period of time

Potential signs and symptoms of transitional cell cancer include:

  • Blood in the urine

  • Persistent back pain

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Painful or frequent urination

  • Fatigue​

If you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms, consult a specialist working with the Oncology Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

Your doctor will begin the diagnosis by inquiring about your medical history followed by a thorough physical exam to check for signs of the disease. You may also be asked to get some more tests conducted including:

  • Urinalysis to check you urine for blood, protein and bacteria.

  • Uteroscopy in which a thin, flexible tube is inserted in the urethral opening, above your bladder into the ureters to look for any lesions in the ureteral or renal pelvic wall.

  • Intravenous pyelogramin which a contrast dye is injected in your vein. X-rays are taken at different times to observe the flow of dye from the kidneys to the bladder.

  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scan of the kidneys and bladder in which a series of detailed images are taken by a computer

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the abdomen in which a series of detailed images of the body are made on the computer using a magnet and radio waves.

  • Abdominal ultrasound, in which sound waves and a sensor is used to detect the presence of abnormalities in the kidney.

  • Biopsy in which a sample of the tumour is extracted to be examined under the microscope. This can be done during uteroscopy.​

Your treatment will greatly depend on the size and stage of the cancer as well as your age, general health and personal preference. Your treatment options include:

  • Surgery to remove part of the kidney (partial nephrectomy) or the entire kidney along with the adrenal glands, lymph nodes and surrounding affected tissues (radical nephrectomy). This is usually the first course of action for patients with kidney cancer.

  • Chemotherapy in which drugs, taken orally or injected, are used to kill the cancerous cells

  • Radiation therapy in which high-energy X-rays or other radiations are used to kill the cancerous cells, applied externally over your body using a machine or by placing a radiation-filled device such as needles, seeds, wires or catheters, directly inside or near the cancer.

  • Biological therapy in which the patient’s immune system is stimulated, using drugs administered intravenously, so that it attacks the cancer cells and reduces the rate of spreading as well as the tumour size.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​



​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.