Surgery is the oldest form of cancer treatment. In fact, chances are that most people with cancer will have some type of surgery, and in some cases, surgery often offers the greatest chance for cure, especially if the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body.
Surgery also plays a key role in the process of diagnosing cancer and finding out how far it has spread (a process is called staging). Advances in surgical techniques have allowed surgeons to operate on a growing number of patients, taking a multi-disciplinary approach to researching, diagnosing, managing and treating various types of cancer.
At Munroe, cancer surgery involves eight general types of procedures.
- Preventive (or prophylactic) surgery
removes tissue that is likely or suspected to become cancer (malignant), even though there may be no signs of cancer at the time of the surgery (a good example is the removal of pre-cancerous polyps from the colon).
- Diagnostic surgery
is used to get samples of tissues in order to find out if cancer is present, or if it is, what type of cancer it is. The diagnosis of cancer is then either confirmed or eliminated by viewing the cells under a microscope
- Staging surgery
is performed to find out how much cancer there is and how far it may have spread. While a physical exam and the results of lab and imaging tests are used to determine the clinical stage of a cancer, a the surgical stage (also called a pathologic stage) is usually a more exact measure of how far a cancer has spread.
- Curative surgery
is done when a tumor is found in only one area, and it is likely that all of the tumor can be successfully removed. Curative surgery can be the main treatment for the cancer, or it may be used along with chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which can be given before or after the operation. Additionally, sometimes radiation therapy is actually used during an operation (called intraoperative radiation therapy).
- Debulking (or cytoreductive) surgery
is used to remove some, but not all, of a tumor when removing all of the tumor would cause too much damage to an organ or nearby tissues. In these cases, the surgeon may remove as much of a tumor as possible and then treat the remaining tumor with radiation or chemotherapy.
- Palliative surgery
is used to treat problems caused by advanced cancer. It is not intended to cure the cancer; rather, it is often used to correct a problem that is causing discomfort or disability. Palliative surgery may also be used to treat pain when the pain is difficult to control by other means.
- Supportive surgery
is performed to help with or support other types of treatment. For example, a vascular access device (commonly called a "port") can be surgically placed into a large vein. The port can then be used to give treatments or draw blood, instead of putting needles in the arms.
is used to improve the way a person looks after major cancer surgery or to restore function after surgery. Typical examples include breast reconstruction a.fter mastectomy or the use of tissue flaps, bone grafts, or prosthetic (metal or plastic) materials after surgery for head and neck cancers.or reconstructive) surgery
Munroe surgeons continuously pioneer and apply the latest developments in cancer surgery, particularly in the area of minimally invasive techniques. As a result, Munroe offers a range of minimally invasive cancer surgical procedures that few other hospitals in the region can match.