There is a risk of urachal cancer if part of the urachus or the whole urachus is present. Years of chronic inflammation and remodelling or possibly leftover embryologic cells can cause urachal cancer.
An intact urachus is indicated by:
- Recurrent infections of the navel or bladder
- Production of mucus by the navel or bladder
- Navel (umbilical) hernia that has not been identified as a persistent urachus
No other risk factors have been identified yet.
Urachal cancer is very rare. Approximately one in 1 million people per year develop urachal cancer, depending on the region of the world. The disease seems to be less common in Europe, for example, than in Japan. Statistically, more men are affected by urachal cancer than women. Most patients are diagnosed in their 50s.
Because of its location, urachal cancer can grow into the abdominal wall and the abdominal cavity. Often it infiltrates the roof of the urinary bladder. Urachal cancer can grow for a long time before causing symptoms. As a result, it is often detected at later stages.