Carcinoma of the urethra

Hum Pathol. 2018 Feb:72:35-44. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2017.08.006. Epub 2017 Aug 18.


Primary carcinomas of the urethra are rare and poorly understood lesions; hence, their clinical and pathologic spectrum is not completely defined. We analyzed a series of 130 primary urethral tumors and classified 106 of them as primary urethral carcinomas. The age at diagnosis of patients with primary urethral carcinomas ranged from 42 to 97 years (mean, 69.4 years; median, 70 years). There were 73 male and 33 female patients with a ratio of 2.2:1. In male patients, the tumors most frequently developed in the bulbous-membranous segment of the urethra. In female patients, the entire length of the urethra was typically involved. Microscopically, they were poorly differentiated carcinomas with hybrid squamous and urothelial features and developed from precursor intraepithelial conditions such as dysplasia and carcinoma in situ, which were frequently present in the adjacent urethral mucosa. High-risk human papilloma virus infection could be documented in 31.6% of these tumors. Follow-up information was available for 95 patients. Twenty-three patients died of the disease with a mean and median survival of 39 and 21 months, respectively. Urethral carcinomas are aggressive tumors with a high propensity for regional and distant metastases with mean and median survival of 39 and 21 months, respectively. Our observations have important implications for the management of patients with primary carcinoma of the urethra by defining them as a unique entity linked to human papilloma virus infection.

Keywords: Carcinoma in situ of the urethra; Carcinoma with hybrid squamous and urothelial features; HPV-related cancer; MRI imaging of urethral carcinomas; Squamous urothelial; Urethral carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / virology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomaviridae / pathogenicity
  • Papillomavirus Infections / pathology*
  • Urethra / pathology*
  • Urethra / virology
  • Urethral Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Urethral Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Urethral Neoplasms / virology
  • Urothelium / pathology
  • Urothelium / virology