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Pelvic exenteration is an operation that’s sometimes used to treat cancer in the pelvis (the area of the body between the hips). This information explains what the operation involves and how you might feel afterwards.
Pelvic exenteration involves removing the bladder, part of the lower bowel (rectum) and the prostate. This operation is only done if there are no signs of cancer anywhere else in the body.
Only specialist surgeons, who are trained and experienced in doing this type of surgery, should carry out pelvic exenteration. So, you may need to be referred to a specialist centre for the operation. Before making the decision to go ahead with any surgery, it’s important to discuss the benefits and risks with your surgeon. This is a major operation, but it can cure the cancer in some people.
Before the operation, you will be referred to a specialist cancer nurse, who will give you information and emotional support. In some units, the specialist nurse may be called your key worker.
This operation may be used to treat men who have rectal cancer| that has come back in the pelvis after treatment. Rarely, pelvic exenteration may be used to treat other cancers in the pelvis.
In this operation, the bladder, the rectum, anus and prostate are removed.
After the operation, you’ll have two new openings (stomas) on your tummy wall. One of these will be a new place for urine to leave your body, called a urostomy. The other will be a new place for bowel motions to leave your body, called a colostomy.
Illustration showing the male pelvic organs. The areas removed during total pelvic exenteration are shaded over.
View a large version of the image of total pelvic exenteration in men|.
Content last reviewed: 1 January 2013
Next planned review: 2015
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You can download a PDF [588Kb]| of all the information in the pelvic exenteration in men section.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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