Types Of Cancer Surgeries And Their Differences

Surgery is common after cancer diagnosis. But there are many types of cancer surgeries. Their purpose, outcome, scope and other factors also vary widely. Some surgeries work to remove as much cancer as possible, while others achieve different goals. Some other goals include removing enough cancer to improve quality of life, or removing enough for diagnosis and staging. Making things even more confusing, some surgeries work for some patients, while other patients will not benefit.

Because your cancer differs from anyone else’s in its biology, DNA, characteristics and other factors, your treatment plan also differs. You may undergo surgery for diagnostic and staging purposes, to cure your cancer, prevent cancer, reduce tumor size or reduce pain from your cancer. Surgery also reconstructs parts of the body damaged by cancer or treatment. Sometimes you need surgery to install ports or support your treatment in other ways.

Surgery for Diagnosis and Staging

Early in your cancer care, you need to know what type of tumor you have and its stage of growth. Sometimes surgery helps meet these goals. This surgery is called a biopsy. Some biopsies are outpatient procedures, whereas others require a hospital stay. Sometimes biopsies also help your doctor understand your cancer’s progression. Some patients also undergo biopsies of lymph nodes or organs.

Surgery to Cure Your Cancer

When you have curative surgery, the surgery is intended to cure your cancer. It leaves no sign of your disease behind. This type of surgery works well when you have an isolated cancer in only one part of the body, without any spreading or metastasizing. Sometimes people with cancers like stage I colorectal cancer go through a primary or curative surgery like this, then needing no other cancer treatment. In other cases, this surgery takes place along with chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Surgery for Prevention

Family history, the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations or other reasons drive some people to seek cancer prevention surgery. Such is the case for women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, who undergo breast or ovarian surgery to remove these vulnerable parts of their body and reduce cancer risk.

Surgery to Reduce Tumor Size or Mass

When cancer tumors grow very large or multiply, some people undergo surgery to reduce these tumors or masses. This often takes place in addition to chemotherapy or radiation.

Surgery for Quality of Life

When your advanced cancer causes immense discomfort or pain, surgery sometimes can help improve quality of life. Such is the case when a blockage is removed from the colon or a tumor is removed from the lungs to enable easier functioning.

Surgery for Reconstruction or Restoration

Reconstructive surgery rebuilds or restores parts of your body damaged by prior surgery or cancer treatment. People undergoing breast or neck surgery often go through reconstruction procedures.

Surgery to Support Treatment

Sometimes surgery supports other aspects of your cancer treatment. You may have surgery for insertion of ports, devices or catheters to receive medication directly into your bloodstream, instead of going through ongoing injections.

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