Surgery is used to diagnose cancer, determine its stage, and to treat cancer. One common type of surgery that may be used to help with diagnosing cancer is a biopsy. A biopsy involves taking a tissue sample from the suspected cancer for examination by a specialist in a laboratory. A biopsy is often performed in the physician’s office or in an outpatient surgery center. A positive biopsy indicates the presence of cancer; a negative biopsy may indicate that no cancer is present in the sample.When surgery is used for treatment, the cancer and some tissue adjacent to the cancer are typically removed. In addition to providing local treatment of the cancer, information gained during surgery is useful in predicting the likelihood of cancer recurrence and whether other treatment modalities will be necessary.
Sometimes surgery involves completely removing cancer cells. Surgery alone may be effective, or your doctor may recommend combining it with other treatments, such as chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, for the best results.
Your doctor may determine that surgery can help treat possible side effects of cancer, such as pain.
When necessary, surgery can help minimize deformities caused by cancer and, as a result, improve your quality of life.
Surgery may be used as a primary treatment or in conjunction with other treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy and may be performed before or after other treatments. Today’s advancements in surgical techniques offer many patients less invasive surgery options.
Talk with your doctor about whether surgery is right for you. If, together, you determine that it is, be sure to discuss the specific goals of your surgery. Ask what to expect, and how to prepare for the surgical procedure and recovery.