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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Urachal cancer

Other Names for this Disease
  • Urachal carcinoma
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

I have been diagnosed with urachal cancer. Are there any new studies or treatments available for this rare disease?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is urachal cancer?

Urachal cancer is a rare type of bladder cancer, making up less than 1% of all bladder cancers.[1] Only about 350 cases have been described in the medical literature to date. The urachus is a primitive structure which before birth connected the bellybutton and the bladder. This connection normally disappears before birth, but in some people remains.[1][2]  Urachal cancers are classified as such based on location at the dome or anterior wall of the bladder and discovery of remnants of the urachus. Most urachal cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that develop from gland cells). Others may be sarcomas (which develop from connective tissue - such as leiomyosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and malignant fibrous histiocytoma), small cell carcinomas, transitional cell cancer, and mixed neoplasias. Most individuals with urachal cancer present with hematuria (blood in urine). Other symptoms may include abdominal pain, a palpable abdominal mass, mucinuria, and bacteriuria.[2] Patients who present with early disease confined to the urachus have a good prognosis when treated with partial cystectomy, umbilicotomy, and urachal resection. The prognosis for those with advanced disease is less promising.[2][3]
Last updated: 12/16/2009

How might urachal cancer be treated?

Surgical resection in the form of partial (segmental) or radical cystoprostatectomy is the main form of treatment.[2] However, similar results are seen with a conservative surgery that involves partial cystectomy with umbilicotomy and removal of the urachus.[2][3] The role of chemotherapy and radiation therapy for the treatment of urachal cancer is unclear, although some studies show that chemotherapy can induce objective response in some cases.[2] Chemotherapy regimens that may be used include: single-agent 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), 5-FU and cisplatin, 5-FU, lomustine and vincristine, taxol and cisplatin, platinum and etoposide, and MVAC (methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin, cisplatin) alone or in conjunction with radiation therapy.[2] 
Last updated: 12/16/2009

Where can I learn about new treatments that may be used for urachal cancer?

PubMed, a searchable database of medical literature, provides up-to-date information about treatments that have been utilized for the treatment of urachal cancer. Information on finding an article and its title, authors, and publishing details is listed here.  Some articles are available as a complete document, while information on other studies is available as a summary abstract.  To obtain the full article, contact a medical/university library (or your local library for interlibrary loan), or order it online using the following link. Using "(Urachal[Title] AND cancer[Title]) AND hasabstract[text]" as your search term should locate articles. To narrow your search, click on the “Limits” tab under the search box and specify your criteria for locating more relevant articles.  Click here to view a search.

Last updated: 12/16/2009

Are there any clinical trials or research studies for urachal cancer?

The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. Click here to access a list of trials that are studying or have studied urachal cancer.

You can also contact the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison (PRPL) Office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We recommend calling the toll-free number listed below to speak with a specialist, who can help you determine if you are eligible for any clinical trials.  

Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office
NIH Clinical Center
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2655
Toll-free: 800-411-1222
Fax: 301-480-9793
Web site:

Last updated: 12/16/2009

What is the prognosis for individuals with urachal cancer?

Studies have shown that the TNM staging system is a good predictor of survival for urachal cancer.[2] Patients who present with early disease confined to the urachus, stages I and II, have a good survival when treated with partial cystectomy, umbilicotomy, and urachal resection.[2][3] However, the prognosis drastically changes for patients that present with advanced stages of this disease.[2]
Last updated: 12/16/2009