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What to Know About Cystectomy for Bladder Cancer

This type of surgery may be necessary if you have invasive bladder cancer. That means you may have this type of surgery if your cancer has spread beyond the inner lining of the bladder. For this surgery, the surgeon takes out part, or all, of your bladder. If your whole bladder is removed, it's called a radical cystectomy. If only some of the bladder is removed, it's called a partial cystectomy. Nearby lymph nodes and other organs may be removed as well.

What to Know About a Radical Cystectomy for Bladder Cancer

If the cancer has spread to deeper layers of your bladder or to areas just around the bladder, the surgeon may take out your whole bladder. The surgeon may also take out some of your lymph nodes.

If you're a man and the cancer has spread, the surgeon will likely also take out your prostate gland. Cancer that spreads sometimes goes to these areas. Without a prostate gland, you do not make semen. While you can still have an orgasm, no semen comes out. This is called a dry ejaculation. Your ability to have an erection may also be affected if there is any damage to the nerves that control this.

If you're a woman and the cancer has spread, the surgeon will also take out your uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and a small part of the vagina. Cancer that spreads sometimes goes to these areas. Removing the organs helps ensure that none of the cancer is left behind.

If your whole bladder is removed, you will also need reconstructive surgery to create a new way for urine to be stored and leave your body.

What to Know About a Partial Cystectomy for Bladder Cancer

If your cancer hasn't spread and is only in one small part of the bladder, your doctor may be able to remove only the part of the bladder with cancer. This type of surgery is called a partial cystectomy. This surgery is as effective for some people as removing the whole bladder. It's also less likely to lead to serious surgical complications. Men who have only part of the bladder removed may keep their prostate and may maintain their ability to make semen and have erections. And women may be able to keep their reproductive organs. Removing only part of the bladder may also mean that you won't need reconstructive surgery because part of the bladder will still be intact.

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