Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Cystectomy for Bladder Cancer
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.
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 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.
More treatment may be needed following a radical cystectomy
and may include
radiation therapy or
Immunotherapy may be used after a partial
cystectomy for early-stage tumors.
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
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 and may include short-term and longer-term problems.footnote 2
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.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Berglund 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.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerChristopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
Current as ofMay 3, 2017
Current as of:
May 3, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
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