Surgery to remove the tumor is the primary treatment for urethral cancer. The procedure that our surgeons may recommend for you will depend on your exact diagnosis as well as your cancer’s stage and grade.
Our surgeons perform the following procedures in the treatment of urethral cancer:
- Cystourethrectomy: Removes the bladder and the urethra
- Cystoprostatectomy: Removes the bladder and the prostate
- Anterior Exenteration: Removes the urethra, bladder and the vagina; plastic and reconstructive surgery may rebuild the vagina
- Partial Penectomy: Removes part of the penis surrounding the urethra where cancer has spread; plastic and reconstructive surgery may rebuild the penis
- Radical Penectomy: Removes the entire penis; plastic and reconstructive surgery may rebuild the penis
- Lymph Node Dissection: Removes lymph nodes in the pelvis and groin
A majority of genitourinary cancer surgeries at Roswell Park are now performed with robotic assistance, using the da Vinci® Surgical System, which offers breakthrough surgical capabilities, imitating the movements of a human surgeon’s hands while increasing precision. Compared to traditional open surgery, which involves a long incision, robotic surgery is done laparoscopically, through small incisions in the abdomen, and results in:
- Less pain
- Less blood loss
- Quicker recovery
- Fewer complications
If the urethra or bladder is removed during surgery, you will require reconstructive surgery to create a urinary diversion that will allow you to pass urine. This may be done in different ways:
- Urostomy: A portion of the small intestine (ileum) is used to make a tube through which urine will pass through an opening to the outside of the body, called a stoma. Urine collects in a flat, disposable bag worn on the outside of the body. The bag must be emptied and replaced regularly, and the stoma cleaned and checked.
- Continent Reservoir: This procedure uses the small intestine to create a reservoir or storage pouch to collect urine inside the body. This pouch, also called an Indiana pouch, means an external bag is unnecessary. The stoma is very small and can be covered with a bandage. Inside the pouch is a one-way valve that does not allow urine to escape.