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When using surgery to treat bladder cancer, options include transurethral resection (TUR), radical cystectomy, and segmental cystectomy. TUR is a form of surgery used to treat early (superficial) cases of the disease. Radical cystectomy is most common type of surgery used to treat invasive bladder cancer. In the form of surgery known as segmental cystectomy, only part of the bladder is removed. Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Surgery for Bladder Cancer: An Overview

Bladder cancer surgery is a common treatment for bladder cancer. The type of surgery will depend largely on the stage and grade of the tumor (see Bladder Cancer Staging). Surgery options include:
  • Transurethral resection
  • Radical cystectomy
  • Segmental cystectomy.
Transurethral Resection
The doctor may treat early (superficial) bladder cancer with transurethral resection (TUR). During TUR, the doctor will insert a cystoscope into the bladder through the urethra. The doctor will then use a tool with a small wire loop on the end to remove the cancer and to burn away any remaining cancer cells with an electric current. This is called fulguration. During TUR, the patient may need to be in the hospital and may require anesthesia. After TUR, patients may also have bladder cancer chemotherapy or biological treatment.
(Click Bladder Cancer Treatment for more information about treatment for bladder cancer.)
Radical Cystectomy
For invasive bladder cancer, the most common type of surgery is radical cystectomy. The doctor also chooses this type of surgery when superficial cancer involves a large part of the bladder. Radical cystectomy is the removal of the entire bladder, the nearby lymph nodes, part of the urethra, and the nearby organs that may contain cancer cells. In men, the nearby organs that are removed are the prostate, seminal vesicles, and part of the vas deferens. In women, the nearby organs that are removed are the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and part of the vagina.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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