How is Urethral Cancer Diagnosed?

A urologist will do a physical exam and ask you for your health record. He or she will ask you about other health issues that may relate to urethral cancer, such as:

The urologist will then check the urethra, feeling for any abnormalities. They may also take urine, blood and other tests. For example:


The urologist may also use a small, lighted tool called a cystoscope to see the inside of the urethra. This is most often done as an outpatient procedure with local anesthesia. If the urologist sees something atypical, you will need a biopsy. For more information on this procedure please visit our Cystoscopy article.

Tissue Biopsy

A tissue biopsy is needed to diagnose urethral cancer. It is not easy to do with local anesthesia, so you will likely be scheduled to return for a biopsy using general anesthesia. The urologist will take tissue samples from any suspicious zones.

Some patients may also need a certain biopsy that involves passing a needle through the skin or vagina into the urethral growth. A tissue sample is then sent to the pathologist to look at under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis. Before you wake up from anesthesia, the urologist will do a thorough exam to learn the extent of the tumor.

If the urologist diagnoses cancer, they may order imaging and other tests to see exactly where and how far the cancer has spread.