A cystectomy is surgery to remove part or all of your bladder. Sometimes other organs, lymph nodes, and part of the urethra are also removed. The urethra is a tube that carries urine from your bladder to outside your body.
To do the surgery, your doctor makes a cut in your lower belly. This cut is called an incision. If the doctor takes out all of your bladder, he or she will need to make a new way for you to pass urine. This is called a continent reservoir. It's a storage pouch that attaches inside your pelvis. It's made from a piece of your bowel. There are two types.
In the hospital, a nurse with special training will teach you how to care for your reservoir. Most people go home in 1 to 2 weeks. But you will probably need 6 to 8 weeks to get back to your usual routine. If your surgery was done to treat bladder cancer, you may need other treatments. These include chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Surgery to remove your bladder may affect your sexual or reproductive life. But if a woman also has her uterus and ovaries removed, she will not be able to get pregnant. She could also start menopause and have hot flashes or other symptoms of menopause. And if a man has his prostate gland and seminal vesicles removed, he may have problems getting an erection. He will also not be able to get a woman pregnant. If you are a man who may want to father a child in the future, talk to your doctor. There are ways to save your sperm before the surgery.
It's common to feel sad or worried about how this surgery will affect you. It may help to join a support group. You can ask your doctor about these groups. You can also call the Canadian Cancer Society (1-888-939-3333) for more information. Or you can visit its website at www.cancer.ca.
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 call line 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.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: May 12, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology
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