Surgery is the oldest form of cancer treatment, but it is still the most successful. The type of surgery will depend on the type of cancer, its location, and the overall health of the patient. Surgery is used not only for tumor removal but also as a diagnostic tool to help stage cancer and determine how far cancer has spread in the body. Upon completion of treatment, it is frequently used as a restorative measure to help return the body to its original appearance. There are several types of surgery used in cancer treatment. Your healthcare provider may suggest one or more of the following options:
- Diagnostic – A surgical biopsy is often needed to confirm a cancer diagnosis. A biopsy removes a small sample of tissue which is then examined under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells.
- Staging – Surgery is often performed to find out the size of the tumor and its exact location. Lymph nodes will often be removed in a staging surgery to help determine if cancer has spread beyond the point of origin. The location and presence of the cancer help the oncologist classify its stage.
- Primary surgery (curative) – Primary surgery removes the tumor and often the surrounding tissue. Surgery may be used by itself as the only treatment option, or it can be combined with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy.
- Reconstruction – Reconstruction surgery, also known as plastic surgery, is often used after primary cancer surgery to restore the appearance of the body. It is often used following a mastectomy or in cancers located in the head and neck.
- Prevention – Some people are at higher risk for developing certain types of cancers due to their family history or exposure to certain chemicals. Poly removal is considered a preventative surgical procedure to reduce the risk of the polyp turning into colon cancer. Some women will have a mastectomy if tested and found to have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation or a family history of breast cancer.
What Happens After Cancer Surgery?
During post-op, you may have an IV drip to provide you with fluids or blood transfusions; you will also have drains in your wounds to help them drain, and you may have a drain in your bladder to collect urine to monitor any blood in your urine if any. You may be prescribed medication for pain; adjuvant therapy is a drug therapy, often used after surgery to lessen the risk of cancer coming back.
What are The Disadvantages of Having Surgery for Cancer?
Although surgical procedures may be largely beneficial to someone with cancer, there are also some disadvantages to this treatment option, including:
- Blood clots
- Damage to tissue, organs, or blood vessels
- Drug reactions
- Slower recovery of other body functions
Why Does Cancer Spread After Surgery?
It is possible cancer can spread after surgery, which is due to many reasons including:
- Possible increase of cancer in the cell adhesion
- The suppression of the patient’s immune system
- It could develop new blood vessels
- It could trigger inflammation
What is Recovery Time After Cancer Surgery?
Recovery from cancer surgery depends on the area of your body the tumor(s) is located. Liver cancer surgery recovery time is usually several weeks, while stomach cancer surgery recovery time is approximately 3 to 6 months; this proves different body areas require a different timeframe for recovery. Recovery also depends upon the health and well-being of the patient, how far advanced the cancer was, and if they were able to remove all of the cancer in one procedure.