Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital


Cancer Treatment - Surgery For Cancer Treatment

How is surgery used in cancer treatment?

Surgery is used in several ways to help cancer patients. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), it is the oldest form of cancer treatment. It provides the best chance to stop many types of cancer, and it also plays a part in diagnosing, staging, and supporting cancer treatment.

Having surgery for cancer is different for every patient, depending on the type of surgery, the type of cancer, and the patient's health. For some people, surgery is a major medical procedure with life-changing side effects. For others, surgery is quick and has few side effects.

What are the different types of surgery used in cancer treatment?

Several types of surgery are helpful to people with cancer. Some surgeries are used in combination with other types of treatment. The following is a list of these surgeries with a brief explanation of their goals:

What Is Informed Consent?

This is a crucial part of understanding your cancer care. This is when you give your cancer care team written permission to perform a treatment. It is your chance to state that you know why and how the treatment is being performed, how it may help you, what the risks and possible side effects are, and what other treatment options may help you. Before you give this permission, make sure to ask your oncologist any questions you have.

What are the risks and potential side effects of surgery for cancer treatment?

Risk is a part of any surgery. Though science and medical technology have made surgery a safe and reliable treatment option, there is always the risk of potential problems and side effects. In many cases, however, the positive effects of surgery outweigh the risks. This is one of the reasons why learning about your cancer and cancer treatment is important. The more you know about surgery for cancer, the more informed your choices will be. Be sure to discuss the following potential complications with your cancer care team prior to undergoing treatment:

Problems during surgery may include:

Problems after surgery may include:

Can other types of surgery help treat cancer?

There are several specialized surgeries used during cancer treatment. The following is a list of some of these surgical treatments:

Types of anesthesia

During surgery, you will be given some form of anesthesia - a medication administered for the relief of pain and sensation during surgery. The type and dosage of anesthesia is administered by the anesthesiologist. When a patient faces surgery, he/she will meet with the anesthesiologist before the procedure. The anesthesiologist will review the patient's medical condition and history to plan the appropriate anesthetic for surgery.

There are various forms of anesthesia. The type you will receive will depend on the type of surgery and your medical condition. Usually, an anesthesiologist will administer a sedative in addition to the anesthetic. The different types of anesthesia are as follows:

About your anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists are physicians trained to administer and manage anesthesia given during a surgical procedure. They are also responsible for managing and treating changes in your critical life functions - breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure - as they are affected by the surgery being performed. Further, they immediately diagnose and treat any medical problems that might arise during and immediately after surgery.

Prior to surgery, the anesthesiologist will evaluate the patient's medical condition and formulate an anesthetic plan which takes the patient's physical condition into account. It is vital that the anesthesiologist knows as much about your medical history, lifestyle, and medications as possible. Some particularly important information he/she needs to know includes the following:

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