If you have muscle-invasive bladder cancer, your treatment plan may include cystectomy, a surgery to remove the bladder.

When deciding where to go for treatment, many patients ask about their surgeon’s level of experience. Our urologic surgeons perform around 250 radical cystectomy operations, in which we remove the entire bladder and other nearby organs, each year — an extremely high number. They also offer a range of bladder preservation and reconstructive options.

If your cancer has spread into the muscle layer of the bladder wall or beyond, the best chance for a long-term cure may be a radical cystectomy. Our surgeons may also take out the surrounding lymph nodes to help prevent the cancer from coming back or metastasizing (spreading) to other areas of the body.

  • For men, the surgeon will also remove the prostate and seminal vesicles (tube-like glands behind the bladder that secrete many components of sperm) as part of a radical cystectomy.
  • For women, the surgeon will remove the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, anterior (front) vaginal wall, and urethra as part of a radical cystectomy.

Sexual health is an important consideration when planning treatment, and our surgeons use approaches to preserve sexual function as much as possible. For some women, we can use techniques to spare the vagina. For some men, our surgeons can use nerve-sparing techniques to maintain their ability to have an erection. You also have the full support of our sexual health team, who are experts in helping cancer patients manage these side effects.

Urinary Diversion through Ostomy and a Stoma

If your bladder is removed through cystectomy or radical cystectomy, our surgeons may create a new storage area for urine. This procedure diverts urine through a segment of the small intestine to an opening on the outside of the abdomen called a stoma. Urine drains through this opening into a collection pouch.

If you need a stoma, our nurses will help you learn how to change and empty the collection pouch. They are highly experienced in assisting patients with this part of postsurgical care.