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Cystectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the bladder. It is mainly used to treat bladder cancer that has spread into the bladder wall or to treat cancer that has come back (recurred) after treatment.
The surgery is done through a cut (incision) the doctor makes in your lower belly. Sometimes it can be done as laparoscopic surgery, which requires only small cuts. To do this type of surgery, a doctor puts a lighted tube, or scope, and other surgical tools through small cuts in your lower belly. The doctor is able to see your organs with the scope.
If you have a cystectomy, your doctor will create a new way to pass urine from your body. There are several ways this can be done, such as:
A cystectomy usually requires a hospital stay of about a week. You will probably need 6 to 8 weeks to fully recover. If your surgery was done to treat bladder cancer, you may need other treatments after that. This may include chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Your doctor will set up a regular schedule of checkups and tests.
If just part of your bladder was removed, you will probably be able to pass urine as you did before the surgery. Your bladder may not hold as much urine for a while. You may need to pass urine more often at first. But later your bladder should adjust so it can hold more urine.
If all of your bladder was removed, you will need to learn how to care for your ileal conduit or continent reservoir. Your enterostomy nurse is trained to teach you how to do this.
Bladder cancer surgery may affect sexual function. If a woman's uterus and ovaries are removed during surgery, she will not be able to get pregnant. And she may start menopause. She may have hot flashes and other symptoms. And if a man's prostate gland and seminal vesicles are removed, he may have problems getting erections. And he will not be able to make a woman pregnant. If a man may want to father a child, he should talk to his doctor. It may be possible to save his sperm before the surgery.
You may feel sad or depressed. Or you may worry about how your body will look after surgery. You may worry about whether the surgery will affect your sex life. These concerns are common. Call the Canadian Cancer Society (1-888-939-3333) or visit its website at www.cancer.ca to learn more.
A cystectomy is mainly used to remove and try to cure cancer that has invaded the wall of the bladder or has come back (recurred) after treatment or that has a high chance of spreading.
For bladder cancer that has spread to the muscle layer, radical cystectomy is the best treatment for preventing the spread or recurrence of cancer and helping people live longer.footnote 1
Complications are common after a radical cystectomy. They may include short-term and longer-term problems.footnote 2
CitationsBerglund RK, Herr HW (2012). Surgery of bladder cancer. In AJ Wein et al., eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology, 10th ed., vol. 3, pp. 2375–2385. Philadelphia: Saunders.Feldman AS, et al. (2015). Cancer of the bladder, ureter, and renal pelvis. In VT DeVita Jr et al., eds., DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg's Cancer Principles and Practices of Oncology, 10th ed., pp. 896–916. Philadelphia: Walters Kluwer.
Adaptation Date: 2/24/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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