Radical Cystectomy for Bladder Cancer

A radical cystectomy is a surgical procedure that is sometimes used to treat extensive bladder tumors that affect more than one part of the organ. Because bladder cancer can potentially spread to other areas of the body, a radical cystectomy with extended lymph node dissection may be recommended. This procedure involves the removal of the bladder as well as some surrounding tissue that is believed to contain cancerous cells. In general, this approach may be considered for a patient whose invasive bladder cancer has penetrated the muscle layer or has recurred after the completion of an initial course of treatment followed by a period of remission.

When performing a radical cystectomy, a surgeon will typically remove:

  • The entire bladder
  • Nearby lymph nodes
  • The prostate gland and seminal vesicles in a male patient
  • The ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix and a small part of the vagina in a female patient

During the procedure, a surgeon will also disconnect the ureters from the bladder to reroute the passage of urine. This can be accomplished in several ways; for instance, a surgeon can create a small internal pouch that substitutes for the bladder, or allow for external waste collection by connecting the ureters to a urostomy opening (stoma) in the abdomen.

To ensure the best possible results from a radical cystectomy, the operation should be performed by an experienced surgeon who specializes in treating bladder cancer. Through the Genitourinary Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, patients who are diagnosed with bladder cancer have access to highly experienced surgeons who are skilled in performing the latest and most comprehensive procedures, including the radical cystectomy. To enhance each patient’s outcome and quality of life, our multispecialty team develops highly individualized treatment plans. For instance, the optimal surgical approach for some patients is an open surgery, while others may benefit more from a robot-assisted laparoscopic operation. We offer a multitude of options to accommodate each patient’s unique needs.

If you’d like to learn more about a radical cystectomy or other treatment options for bladder cancer, the multispecialty team at Moffitt can answer your questions and explain each alternative in detail. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. Referrals are not required to consult with our expert oncologists.