Inherited Tendencies of Urachal Cancer

John Han-Chih Chang, MD and Kenneth Blank, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
My daughter died in 1994 of urachal cancer. Is this cancer inherited? Is there a cure?  

Ken Blank, MD and John Han-Chih Chang, MD, OncoLink Editorial Assistants, respond:

Dear OncoLink reader:
Thank you for your question.

Urachal carcinoma is an extremely rare cancer which arises in the dome(top) of the urinary bladder. Less than 200 cases have been documented in the literature since 1863. Best guess estimates put the incidence of urachal cancer at one case per five million people. Because this tumor is so rare there is little data on its genetics. However, the lack of case reports documenting hereditary cases signifies that urachal cancer is not likely to be inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern. Rather,like most cancers, the etiology is secondary to a variety of factors including environment, genetics and life style.

Also like most cancers, the ability to cure urachal cancer depends on the stage at which it is found. Urachal cancers which are detected early have a good prognosis. Overall, however, 50% of urachal cancer patients will die of their disease. The treatment for urachal cancer which has not spread to other parts of the body is surgery—with removal of the cancer and part or all of the bladder. Because the most common site for the cancer to return is local (i.e. in or near the bladder) many physicians advocate radiation treatments to be done either before or after surgery. The use of chemotherapy in treating urachal cancer remains experimental.

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