Cystectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the bladder. It is used to treat bladder cancer that has spread into the bladder wall or to treat cancer that has come back (recurred) following initial treatment. There are three types of cystectomy:
The surgery is done through a cut (incision) the doctor makes in your lower belly. Sometimes it can be done as laparoscopic surgery. Some people call this "Band-Aid surgery," because it 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 simple cystectomy or radical cystectomy, your doctor will create a new way to pass urine from your body. There are several ways this can be done.
Cystectomy usually requires a hospital stay of about a week. You can expect some discomfort during the first few days after surgery. This discomfort is usually controllable with home treatment and medicine. Complete recovery usually takes 6 to 8 weeks.
After initial treatment for bladder cancer, it is important to receive follow-up care. Your doctor will set up a regular schedule of checkups and tests.
Cystectomy is used to remove and attempt to cure cancer that has invaded the wall of the bladder or has come back (recurred) following initial treatment or has a high chance of spreading.
Out of 100 people who have a cystectomy for cancer that is in the muscle of the bladder and hasn't spread any farther, 75 are alive after 5 years. If the cancer has spread beyond the muscle to the area outside the bladder (regional spread), only 36 out of 100 people who have a cystectomy are alive after 5 years. For bladder cancer that has spread farther, the survival rate is even less.1
Bladder cancer surgery may affect your fertility. If a woman's uterus or ovaries are removed during the surgery, she will not be able to get pregnant. If a man's prostate gland is removed, he will not be able to father a child. If you are concerned about your fertility, talk to your doctor about your options before your surgery.
Bladder cancer surgery may also affect how you feel about your body. It may also affect your sexual function. Having sexual intercourse may be more difficult for a woman who has part of her vagina removed. A man may have erection problems if his surgery involves removing the prostate and seminal vesicles. For more information, see the topic Sexual Problems in Women or Erection Problems.
If a woman's ovaries are removed during the surgery, she may have hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. For more information, see the topic Menopause.
- American Cancer Society (2010). Cancer Facts and Figures 2010. Atlanta: American Cancer Society. Available online: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-026238.pdf.
- McDougal WS, et al. (2008). Cancer of the bladder, ureter, and renal pelvis. In VT DeVita Jr et al., eds., DeVita, Hellman and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology, 8th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1358–1384. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Nieh PT, Marshall FF (2007). Surgery of bladder cancer. In AJ Wein et al., eds., Campbell-Walsh Urology, 9th ed., vol. 3, pp. 2479–2505. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
Last Revised: May 2, 2011
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