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Urine is produced by the kidneys and sent to the bladder for collection and subsequent drainage (urination). The tube that runs from the kidney to the bladder is called a ureter. The renal pelvis is a funnel-shaped junction between the kidney and ureter.

Renal pelvis cancer (and that of the ureter) is also called transitional cell cancer because both structures are lined with this specific type of cell. Transitional cells are flexible and can change shape without rupturing. . Transitional cell cancer can form in the renal pelvis, the ureter or both. Transitional cell cancer is the type responsible for most renal pelvis cancers.