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A cystectomy is surgery to remove part or all of the bladder. It is mainly used to treat bladder cancer.
There are three types of surgery.
The surgery is done through a cut (incision) the doctor makes in your lower belly. Sometimes it can be done as laparoscopic surgery. This type of surgery needs only small cuts. To do it, a doctor puts a lighted tube, or scope, and other tools through small cuts in your lower belly. The doctor can see your organs with the scope.
If you have a simple cystectomy or radical cystectomy, your doctor will create a new way for you to pass urine. There are a few ways this can be done.
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. A wound ostomy continence nurse (WOCN) 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.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Christopher G. Wood MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
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