Bladder cancer affects millions every year and a cystectomy is the corrective surgical removal of all or part of the bladder to prevent further damage from the cancer. It is also utilized to treat bladder cancer that has come back (recurred) following initial treatment. There are three primary types of cystectomy:

    • Partial cystectomy is the removal of only part of the bladder and is the best course of action to treat cancer that has invaded the bladder wall in just one area. If the cancer is not near the openings where urine enters or leaves the bladder, Partial cystectomy is a good option.
      • Simple cystectomy is the removal of the entire bladder.
        • Radical cystectomy is a more comprehensive procedure and involves removing the entire bladder, adjacent lymph nodes, part of the urethra, and nearby organs that may contain cancer cells. In a male procedure; the prostate, seminal vesicles and portions of the vas deferens are excised. In a female procedure; the cervix, the uterus, the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and part of the vagina are also removed.
The surgery is performed through an incision the lower abdomen and sometimes it can be done as a minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. For a laparoscopic procedure, a lighted tube, or scope, is inserted while other surgical tools are applied through other small incisions in the lower abdomen. The doctor is then able to see the organs through the use of a scope.
If a surgical approach is recommended for a bladder cancer treatment, some patients may be a good candidate for a minimally invasive, robotic assisted procedure using a system such as Intuitive Medical’s da Vinci ® system. Robotics such as those utilized with a da Vinci ® console uses advanced medical robotic technology in order to help a physician accomplish complex procedure with a very high degree of precision.

Studies have shown that robotic assisted cystectomy offers cancer patients several medical benefits over a conventional open surgery that include significantly less pain, decreased loss of blood, less risk of surgical site infection, decreased scarring, and a drastically shorter post operative recovery time.

The surgical degree of precision and enhanced dexterity of robotic assisted procedures allows urologists to perform a minimally invasive surgery to treat many types of bladder cancer. While there is no way to guarantee any surgical result, innovative medical techniques such as using robots and laparoscopes offer benefits that may be worth discussing with a surgical professional.

Generally, a cystectomy procedure requires about a week stay in the hospital accompanied by some discomfort during the first few days of recovery. This post-operative pain is usually well controlled with home treatment and prescription medication while a complete recovery may take up to two months.

It should be noted that additional treatment may be required following a radical cystectomy and may encompass measures such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Immunotherapy may work following a partial cystectomy for early-stage tumors.

After initial treatment for bladder cancer, follow up care is absolutely essential to ensure that all the cancer has been removed and that post-operative recovery is progressing. The doctor will initiate a regular schedule of checkups and tests in order to monitor a patient’s progress.