Bladder removal recovery

My father, 80 years old, has been living with superficial bladder cancer (T1) for 10 years. He now is told it is invasive, and may need radical cystectomy, maybe with follow up chemo. Radiation chemo may also be an option--waiting to see. I know this is a major surgery--can an 80 yr old handle it?

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I had my radical cystoprostatectomy with neobladder implant and the removal less than three months later of my upper right lung (the largest_ lobe. That all occurred ten years ago. I should also add that I have had open heart surgery, have a pacemaker and have had numerous other medical conditions. I am doing quite well at age 86!

Age is a relative thing. Some people are old at age 60, some are young at ninety.

If your father is active, exercises regularly he should have no problem. It is not an easy surgery. Most important is getting a doctor who does the surgery every week with a team that he has been working with for perhaps year. Depoending on the tyoe of diversion, this is anywheres from a three hour operation to 8-11 hour surgeries for neobladder implant. More important than your fahter's physical condition, is the capabilities of your surgeon.

I would not consider having this operation done by a team that does less than a 100 such operations per year.

Best wishes. Please let me know kf you have further questions.


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I echo HighlandGuy's insightful comments regarding age. Since bc is much more common in an older age group, I would think that there are more than a few who have surgery at about that age. I believe it is important to have a surgeon with extensive experience as this is not a surgical procedure to be taken lightly. I was on the relatively young end of the scale with a cystectomy at 59 and fairly fit and without concomitant diseases. Although we may disagree on what is an adequate number of cystectomies per year, we certainly agree on the need for experience. Best wishes,


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My dad is 79 years old and is planning on having neo bladder surgery on Dec 3rd. I have read that if a patient is healty enough to have the bladder removed, then he is healthy enough to have the neo bladder surgery. My dad is in excellent health and has no other health conditions. I agree with the comments above. Please keep me posted on how your dad does. The biggest problem we have run into is getting the surgery scheduled quickly. I have been amazed at how difficult it is to get OR time. Best of luck to your dad. Please let him know that he is not alone.

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Hello seattlesally,

I echo the comments above. I thought I was on the upper end of average age for RC's at 59, though my surgeon from Sloan Kettering told me their average age is 72 and I was comparatively young.

I think for your dad it could be more about general state of health, both physical and mental -attitude plays a huge part in the recovery process.

Stay Strong,

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I guess its all relative as others have said,,,,,
my dad had open heart surgery at age 87,,,
he got evey complication possible after surgery,,,
things is his veins were not as good as they could have been,,,,,,,,,,so at 80,,,,I think he has a great chance,,,,,,, TWIST....YOUR DAD ,I am surprised he is doing the neo and not the bag......less time in surgery, can be done laproscopically,,,,and no diapers,,,,,,,has he made his mind up already? Why the delay time wise?
just wondered........ginger

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Hi, I had my RC with neo 2 weeks ago. I am 63 and the surgery took a total of 7 hours. The Dr. told me I was a young healthy and active 63 and that age didn't really matter. My biggest problem was losing 10 pounds while in the hospital.

I didn't want to do the bag but If I was a little older I probably would have. The surgery would have gone much faster also.

I'm feeling much better now and recovering a little more. Hopefully your dad can have a fast recovery as well.

Take care,

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I am 77 1/2. Just had R/C 5 weeks ago. Recovering, eating and sleeping well. I just returned from a 1 mile walk (walk twice a day), and do a PT exercise set twice a day. Had mild emphysema and some areterio problems going in, but did not cause problem. Was 3 days longer in hospital than some, but only 10 days in all, due to having to go back for insertion of stents one day after major surgery.

Good luck.

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Hello, Seattle:
One of my favorite cities. I am also 80 years old...had radical cystoprostatectomy 14 months ago. Aside from romantic capablilities I am able to do everything I did presurgery...hiking, biking, trout fishing in turbulent waters, golf, mowing my half acre lawn. If you are in good shape physically, and your physician agrees, go for it. My only advice would be to do plenty of walking as soon after surgery as possible. My very best to you and your family.

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Hi Chris,
Who was your surgeon at Sloan? And, how are you doing following your RC? -Jon

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Thank you for your encouragement. My Dad is a fairly active 80 yr old, but just had lung surgery which took a lot out of him--turned out it wasn't BAC cancer and he had problems with fluid collecting in lungs. He also is in permanent A-fib, so his cardiologist has to give the green light to have the surgery. He may try chemo/radiation first and see how he responds. He has great Dr.'s at Brigham and Women's in Boston with lots of experience, so I feel good about that. I am going to recommend my Dad talk to others that have had RC so he knows he won't lose quality of life. I do worry about the high risk of infection with the procedure.

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Actually I got that wrong--his MD is at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston. He's seen so many, I lose track!

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Hello Seattlesally,

The best advice I can give is to thoroughly check out the doctor you plan to use. If they are not doing 75+ of these operations per year, I might be inclined to look around a bit. Post operative care -during the hospital stay- is equally important so the hospital should be used to RC patients.

I had neo-adjuvant chemo (cisplatin & gemcitabine) and the doctor said it was highly effective. Don't dismiss that option.

The hospital may have a list of prior RC patients who are willing to talk to prospective ones -ask for the list. Also, do talk to people in this group. They are all very helpfull and you can make direct contact with them -many exchange phone numbers.

Good luck and stay strong.


At Sloan I see Harry Herr -he does all the removal of orgns- and Sherri Donat -she specialises only in diversions (bladder and bowel).

So far, at 4.5 weeks post op and 1.5 weeks post foley removal, I am doing ten times better than I ever expected. I have no incontinence issues. By day I wear a guard in my underwear that catches the minor leakage and spotting and by night I awake every 2 hours or so and go just fine -sometimes I awake on my own with a pressure sensation. I was seriously considering the Indiana pouch for my diversion as the fear of incontinence and having 'accidents' was really scary. I am so pleased I went with the neo. Dr. Donat takes her time on the OR table, but I have to say, so far, her work is proving out brilliantly, for me. She calls me her poster boy.

Are you at, or going to, Sloan?

Be well to All,

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Dana Farber in Boston is recognized as one of the two or three best cancer facilities in the country. Have you considered them?

This is a really major surgery where the skill of the doctor can mean the difference. I too had lung cancer in addition to blacder R/C amd p[em jert surgery. I was T3 Grade 8/10 prostate, T2, Grade 4/4 bladder cancer and T1b Grade 2/4 lung cancer. I had severe emphysema (46% of normal lung capacity prior to removal of my URL at one and the same time. We have considerable in common. I have been NED and doing well now, for ten years. I and am now 86 yers old.

Please let me know if I may be of assistance.


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Seems like it is taking forever to get my Dad scheduled for PET/CT scans to determine if the T2 cancer has spread. Getting frustrated!

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Thank you so much Highland Guy.
You do seem to have a lot in common with my Dad--he has emphysema as well. Are you in the Boston area?
My Dad was going to MGH in Boston, but got a second opinion on biopsy from Beth Israel Deaconess, and his MD's there are top notch--they are affiliated with Dana Farber. MGH did pioneer bladder sparing chemo/radiation therapy, so he may try that 1st with a Dr. that was there, and now is with BID. Actually his DR. said RC is the "gold standard" so I am nervous about him trying the c/r treatment--feel like we're wasting precious time if it doesn't prove effective.
All this hinges on the results of PET/CT scans being done next week. We'll know more what direction to go from there I guess. Very scared.

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I hope all goes well with the scans and that the news from them will be favorable. The waiting always seems interminable. Best wishes,


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I am not from Boston area and have had not personal experience with the hospitals in that area.

Cabcer treatment is uniqque (unlike other medical conditions requiring treatment by specialists) extremely complex (placing a critical value on experience with like or similar cases), rapidly changing (virtually requiring treatment by major research facility) and treated requiring specializeds skills (meaning that treatment is not by a doctor, but by a team of highly experienced specialists.

Only reserach, teaching, Centers specializing exclusively in cancer treatment normally meet this minimum requirements.


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wow a lot of inspiration from seniors[i am one too]

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