Surgery for muscle invasive bladder cancer

Surgery is one of the main treatments for muscle invasive bladder cancer. The surgeon usually removes all your bladder (cystectomy) and makes a new way for you to pass urine. Doctors call this urinary diversion. There are different types of urinary diversion. So, there are several choices of operation depending on which type of urinary diversion you have.

Most people with bladder cancer start by having a trans urethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT). This surgery diagnoses your cancer. And it finds out how far it has grown (the stage). You might have a second TURBT to make sure the surgeon has removed all the cancer.

Surgery to remove the bladder (cystectomy)

A cystectomy is an operation to remove all or part of your bladder. There are different types of operation.

Urostomy (ileal conduit)

A urostomy means that you have a bag outside your body to collect your urine. It is also called an ileal conduit.

Continent urinary diversion (internal pouch)

Your surgeon makes an internal pouch to hold your urine, and a new opening (stoma) on your tummy. You pass a thin tube (catheter) into the stoma to pass urine and you don't have to wear a bag.

Bladder reconstruction (neobladder)

A bladder reconstruction (neobladder) is an operation to make a new bladder after the surgeon removes your bladder. After surgery you continue to pass urine through your urethra.

Before your bladder cancer surgery

Before your operation, you have tests to check your fitness and you meet members of your treatment team. 

On the day of your bladder cancer surgery

On the day of your operation, you need to do things including stopping eating for a few hours. 

After bladder cancer surgery

You will have a few tubes in place when you wake up, such as a drip, wound drain and catheter. You will be in hospital for around 1 or 2 weeks.

Problems after bladder cancer surgery

There is a risk of problems or complications after any operation. Some of the possible problems depend on which type of urinary diversion you have.

Last reviewed: 
10 Nov 2022