Middle-aged man with UTUC

What is the urinary tract?

The urinary tract is the name for the body parts that work together to collect, store, and remove urine from the body.

Silhouette of middle-aged man with UTUC
Urinary tract graphic

Those body parts include the

  • 1kidneys
  • 2ureters
  • 3bladder
  • 4urethra

as well as many muscles and nerves.

Urine is produced in the kidneys. Then it flows through the ureters, which are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. Next, it is stored in the bladder. Then, when it is time to urinate, it leaves the body through the urethra.

Urinary tract graphic

What types of cancer can happen in the urinary tract?

Cancer in the urinary tract is usually called urothelial carcinoma, or urothelial cancer. It is called urothelial because it usually happens in the urothelium, which is the tissue that lines the inside of the urinary tract. However, your urologist might simply call it urinary tract cancer.

Urothelial or urinary tract cancer can happen in the lining of any major parts of the urinary tract.

Cancer that happens in the lining of the kidneys or the ureters is called:

upper tract urothelial cancer, or UTUC.
Upper urinary tract graphic

It gets the name upper tract because the kidneys and ureters are the upper part of the urinary tract.

Your urologist might use another name for this type of cancer, such as

  • Kidney cancer
  • Renal pelvis cancer
  • Ureteral cancer
  • Cancer in the lining of the kidney
Upper urinary tract graphic

Cancer that happens in the lining of the kidneys or the ureters is called:

upper tract urothelial cancer, or UTUC.

It gets the name upper tract because the kidneys and ureters are the upper part of the urinary tract.

Your urologist might use another name for this type of cancer, such as

  • Kidney cancer
  • Renal pelvis cancer
  • Ureteral cancer
  • Cancer in the lining of the kidney

Has your doctor told you that you have kidney cancer?

Be sure to ask whether it is UTUC or another type of cancer that happens in the kidney, called renal cell cancer or renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

More information about RCC can be found on the website of the National Cancer Institute.

Urinary tract target graphic

Has your urologist told you that you have cancer in your upper urinary tract?

Find out what’s important to know about UTUC

Urinary tract target graphic