When used to treat cancer, surgery is a procedure used to remove cancer from the body. It is one of the most common treatment options for cancer, and is used to:
A surgery is usually performed to establish a diagnosis of cancer. This is referred to as a biopsy. A cancer can initially present as a mass or tumor, and a sample is needed to determine whether it is cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). Once the sample is removed, it is sent to a pathologist to be examined. The pathologist identifies the contents of the sample, and sends the findings to the surgeon.
Another common usage for surgery is the partial (debulking) or complete removal of cancerous tumor. Debulking is used when removing an entire tumor might damage an organ or the body. With the partially removing a tumor, it can help other treatment options work better.
Reconstruction surgery is used to restore appearance and function.
Surgery is used to remove tumors that are causing pain or pressure.
Cancer treatments may require that a port or catheter be placed to provide consistent and reliable venous access. This is usually performed in a brief outpatient surgical procedure. Once treatment is completed, these devices are removed.
A surgery may also be performed to prevent cancer from developing. This usually occurs when it is known that you have a predisposition for developing a specific type of cancer. For example, someone who tests positive for the BRCA2 gene may elect to have bilateral mastectomies to significant reduce their risk for developing breast cancer.