Surgery offers the greatest chance for a cure for many types of cancer, especially those that have not yet spread to other parts of the body, according to the American Cancer Society. Most people with cancer will have some type of surgery. Advances in surgical techniques have allowed surgeons on the medical staff to successfully operate on a growing number of patients. Today, less invasive operations are performed by physicians on the medical staff to remove tumors while preserving as much normal function as possible. Various kinds of surgery may be performed by physicians on the medical staff during your cancer treatment.
Preventive surgery is used to remove body tissue that is not cancerous but is likely to become cancerous. For example, many colon cancers can be prevented by the surgical removal of pre-cancerous polyps by physicians on the medical staff.
Diagnostic surgery, also known as a biopsy, is used by physicians on the medical staff to get a tissue sample to identify your specific cancer and make a diagnosis. The diagnosis of cancer often can be confirmed only by looking at the cells under a microscope. Several surgical techniques can be used to obtain a sample, including:
- Fine Needle Biopsies: A needle is inserted into the tumor and material is drawn out for inspection under a microscope
- Incisional or Excisional Biopsies: The patient is put under local or regional anesthesia, and a small incision is made in the skin. The surgeon either removes a piece of a large tumor (incisional) or the entire mass (excisional) for further examination.
Staging surgery is used by physicians on the medical staff to determine the extent and the amount of cancer. Surgical procedures commonly used for staging cancers include:
- Endoscopy: A flexible tube with a viewing lens or video camera and a fiber optic light on the end is passed through natural body openings to view suspicious areas in hollow body cavities, such as the colon or stomach
- Laparoscopy: Similar to endoscopy, but requires a small incision to be made in the abdominal wall
- Laparotomy: A major surgical procedure where a physician makes an incision allowing him or her to look directly at the suspicious areas
Curative surgery is the removal of a tumor when it appears to be confined to one area; it is performed by physicians on the medical staff when there is hope of taking out all of the cancerous tissue. Curative surgery may be used along with chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which can be given before or after the operation.
Supportive surgery is used by medical staff physicians to help with other types of treatment. For example, surgery can be performed to place a catheter port in a vein to help deliver chemotherapy treatments.
Restorative surgery is used by physicians on the medical staff to restore a person's appearance or the function of an organ or body part after primary surgery. Examples of restorative surgery include breast reconstruction after a mastectomy or the use of tissue flaps, bone grafts or prosthetic materials after surgery for oral cavity cancers.
Source: American Cancer Society