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Kidney and Bladder Cancer

When cancer affects your most critical organs, it’s important to do everything possible. That means going beyond standard treatments, matching you with clinical trials and working with other cancer centers nationwide to find the best care for you.

Kidney and Bladder Cancer at a Glance

Men are more twice as likely to develop kidney cancer, and 3-4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women. 

  • Symptoms

    Kidney and bladder cancer have a serious symptom in common – blood or blood clots in your urine. Kidney cancer was traditionally indicated by pain or a growing mass in the back or side, but in current times is most often identified on a CT scan / CAT scan, or other imaging done for an unrelated reason.  The most common symptom for bladder cancer is still blood in the urine, but other symptoms can be pain or burning during urination, having to go more frequently, or feeling the need to urinate, or not being able to pass urine.

  • Steps to Diagnosis

    Once your primary care physician has reason to suspect kidney or bladder cancer, you should be referred to a Genitourinary Cancer team. That specialist will perform additional testing, which may include a biopsy, blood and urine tests, or other imaging tests.

  • Common Concerns

    Men are more twice as likely to develop kidney cancer, and 3-4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women. Smokers are considerably more likely to develop both cancer types. Patients over 65 make up over 70% of bladder cancer diagnoses. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, and obesity increase the risk of a kidney cancer diagnosis.

  • Prevention

    For both bladder and kidney cancer, quitting smoking will reduce your risk, as well as managing your weight and blood pressure with diet and exercise.


Both bladder and kidney cancer respond well to precision medicine as part of a personalized treatment plan designed specifically for you. These treatments may include:

A variety of surgical procedures can effectively treat kidney and bladder cancer, depending on the stage and how much the cancer has spread. Learn more

Intravenous and/or oral medication that attacks and kills cancer cells in the body. Learn more

Intravenous medication that stimulates your immune system, helping it recognize and destroy cancer cells. Learn more

High-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, are used to kill cancer cells directly. Learn more

Therapy focused on blocking the growth and spread of cancer cells by targeting the specific genes, proteins, or tissue affected by cancer.

Our Approach

Cancer is personal to you, your loved ones – and to us. Our unique point of view allows us to work together to create a personalized care plan focused on the principles of precision medicine, ensuring that your treatment is exactly the right fit for your genetic profile, lifestyle, and individual circumstances.

Our interdisciplinary team considers the right care plan from multiple perspectives, often consulting with internal experts to gather up-to-the-moment insight on treatment options.  

Then, your course of treatment will be designed to suit your exact personal medical needs, using medicine to do the most good while remaining minimally invasive. That means we’re focused not just on eradicating the disease, but on preserving your quality of life before, during, and after your treatment.

We are here to help you heal as a whole person.  Wherever your care path leads, you can be sure our entire team will be there with you every step of the way.

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  • Please contact us for more information about other cancers and conditions we treat including:

Multidisciplinary Approach to Cancer Care

Continuing Support

Wherever your individual care plan takes you, we’ll work closely with you to understand your preferences, and your needs – and be sure any additional support is ready when you need it, including:

  • Dietary or nutrition advisors, providing special focus and attention for chemo patients
  • Genetic counselors to help you understand your risk factors
  • Social workers dedicated to easing your emotional burdens and helping with community benefits
  • Financial counselors to help you understand the financial aspect and work with you to reduce the burden when possible
  • Specialty pharmacy liaisons who help authorize your prescriptions and educate you on managing side effects and taking your medicine properly
  • Nurse navigators to help guide you throughout the cancer institute, every step of the way
  • Physical and rehabilitation therapists who provide integrated care alongside your primary care plan

Frequently Asked Questions

At Dignity Health, our team of oncology experts are sensitive to your urgent needs and have compassion and humankindness. Our specialists work side-by-side to carefully review complex cases and develop personalized treatment plans.

Our skilled surgeons use minimally invasive surgical procedures to reduce risk and optimize outcomes. We invest in advanced imaging technologies and radiation therapies to target tumors with greater precision.

You should choose Dignity Health because we’ve built a reputation for innovative therapies and surgical techniques that minimize the need for temporary or permanent colostomies. Our holistic approach is evident in services designed to treat the whole person—mind, body, and spirit.

The term “genitourinary” refers to the body’s urinary system and its connection to the genitals. The services provided in the Genitourinary (GU) Cancer Program at Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center include the care and treatment of patients with malignant disease of the prostate, bladder, kidney, penis, testicles, urethra, and adrenal gland.  

Doctors recognize how critical disease-specific expertise can be when treating cancer. And for patients and their loved ones, understanding more about these GU cancers can advance understanding of the treatment that may be selected, based on genetic profile, lifestyle, and individual circumstances.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our disease-specific oncologists, please call (602) 825-2039.

Bladder cancer occurs most commonly in the cells that line the inside of the bladder and this is known as transitional cell carcinoma. About 74,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with bladder cancer this year.

People who smoke have an increased risk of bladder cancer. Being exposed to certain chemicals and having chronic bladder infections can also increase the risk of bladder cancer. Bladder cancer is often diagnosed at an early stage, when the cancer is easier to treat.

Symptoms of this cancer may include:

  • blood in the urine – in most cases, blood in the urine (called “hematuria”) is the first warning sign of bladder cancer, according to the American Cancer Society

  • changes in bladder habits or symptoms of irritation

  • having to urinate more often than usual

  • pain or burning during urination

  • feeling as if you need to go right away, even when the bladder is not full

For more information specifically about bladder cancer, visit this page put together by the National Cancer Institute (NCI): For information about survival rates for bladder cancer, visit


Kidney cancer in adults either forms in the tissues of the kidney that make urine (renal cell carcinoma) or in the renal pelvis and ureter in adults (called transitional cell cancer). The National Cancer Institute says smoking and taking certain pain medicines for a long time can increase the risk of adult kidney cancer. Certain inherited disorders also can increase the risk of kidney cancer in children and adults.

Symptoms of this cancer may include:

  • blood in the urine (hematuria)

  • low back pain on one side (not caused by injury)

  • a mass (lump) on the side or lower back

  • fatigue (tiredness)

  • loss of appetite

  • weight loss not caused by dieting

  • fever not caused by an infection that doesn’t go away

  • anemia (low red blood cell counts)

About 61,500 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with kidney cancer every year, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). For more information specifically about kidney cancer, visit this page put together by the National Cancer Institute (NCI): For information about survival rates for kidney cancer, visit

Questions to ask your oncologist about your genitourinary (GU) cancer:

  • What specific kind of cancer do I have?

  • What is my prognosis?

  • What is your experience in treating the cancer I have?

  • How will you determine the best treatment for me?

  • How long does each treatment option typically last, both individually and as a series of treatments?

  • How will you know if the treatment is making progress?

For more information about various types of cancer, cancer staging and treatment options, click on this link from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN): NCCN Guidelines for Patients® -

For more information about scheduling an appointment at Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s, please call (602) 825-2039.



You can minimize your risk of developing kidney and bladder cancer through these four steps:

  • Avoid using tobacco products.

  • Take appropriate precautions if you work around chemicals used in the rubber, leather, textiles, paint products, and printing industries. If you do work in these industries, it’s especially important not to smoke.

  • Maintain a healthy body weight.

  • Men should not take Vitamin E supplements. They have been found to increase risk of prostate cancer.

Search our network of oncologists in Phoenix and schedule your appointment today