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Bladder Cancer & Treatment Options Including a Cystectomy

The bladder is a hollow organ located inside the lower abdomen that stores urine. While it is about the size of a grapefruit, the bladder is distensible (elastic), which allows its muscular wall to get larger and smaller.

Bladder cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the bladder. Bladder cancer is the ninth most common cancer worldwide with approximately 350,000 new cases per year, claiming roughly 145,000 lives annually. Rates in men are three to four times greater than in women, and bladder cancer is more common in many southern and eastern European countries, parts of Africa, the Middle East and North America.

Causes of Bladder Cancer

There are many risk factors that may increase your chances of developing bladder cancer. While not all factors are preventable, it's important to know what they are so appropriate action can be taken, such as changing a health behavior or being monitored closely for a potential cancer. Causes of bladder cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Occupational exposures
  • Race
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Chronic bladder inflammation
  • Personal history of bladder cancer
  • Bladder birth defects
  • Genetics
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Drinking water and arsenic
  • Fluid consumption

Common Bladder Cancer Symptoms

Bladder cancer symptoms are often difficult to detect until the cancer has progressed to a more advanced and difficult-to-treat stage. Therefore, it's extremely important to consult your doctor for a screening quickly if you experience any bladder cancer symptoms. Most bladder cancer symptoms may also indicate less-severe conditions such as infections and kidney stones; however, it's important to be treated as soon as possible, regardless of the contributing condition. Common bladder cancer symptoms include:

  • Blood in the urine (making the urine slightly rusty to deep red)
  • Pain during urination
  • Frequent urination or feeling the need to urinate without results
  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Incontinence
  • Weight loss

Treating Bladder Cancer

Treatment options depend on the stage of bladder cancer (Stage 0 to Stage 4). There are four standard treatment options for bladder cancer:

  • Surgery (cystectomy) – A cystectomy is the removal of all or part of the bladder and possibly the removal of nearby lymph nodes and organs that may contain cancer. If the bladder is removed, the surgeon creates a new way for urine to be stored and to leave the body.
  • Radiation – Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells either by killing the cells or stopping them from dividing.
  • Biologic Therapy – Biologic therapy is a treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer. This type of cancer treatment is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy.


Each patient’s case is unique. The type and stage of bladder cancer will determine which treatment(s) will be recommended by your physician. It is important to discuss all treatment options with your doctor before a decision is made about which is best for you.

miVIP's Bladder Cancer Treatment

Cystectomy is traditionally performed using an open approach, meaning the surgeon must make a large abdominal incision to access the bladder. Another approach called conventional laparoscopy is less invasive, but due to the surgical instruments used, laparoscopy limits the doctor's dexterity, field of vision and control as compared to open surgery.

If your doctor recommends surgery for bladder cancer, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive da Vinci® cystectomy. da Vinci uses state-of-the-art technology to help your doctor perform a precise operation through a few tiny incisions with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control.

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