What is Surgery in Cancer? and Why is it Important?

Surgery is a standard method of treating cancer. Cancer Surgery means removing the tumour and adjacent tissue during an operation. A doctor who performs Surgery to treat cancer is called an onco-surgeon. Surgery is one of the oldest types of Cancer Treatment. And today, it is still beneficial in the treatment of many types of cancer. It is the most accurate in removing most types of cancer before it had even spread to (metastasized) lymph nodes or distant sites.

Surgery in cancer is not only a treatment method. It is also used extensively for the diagnosis of cancer. It is also used by doctors to locate if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and tissues. However, Surgery is not a solution for certain cancers like blood cancer, which does not form a solid tumour.

Surgery is not usually the recommended treatment across early-stage cancers. Some cancers grow rapidly or are in inaccessible locations. In other cases, removing the cancer may require the removal of an entire organ, or Surgery may impair the function of the organ. In such cases, it may be beneficial to treat with radiation or Chemotherapy first.

If the cancer has not metastasised, the patient may be cured by Surgery. Before surgery, though, it is not always possible to be sure, whether the cancer has spread or has not. Doctors also remove lymph nodes near the tumour (sentinel nodes) during Surgery to see if the cancer is spreading in them. If so, the person may be at a high risk of recurrence of the cancer and may require post-surgery radiation or Chemotherapy to prevent recurrence.

When a cancer has metastasised, Surgery is not the primary treatment. Sometimes, however, Surgery is done to decrease primary tumour size (a procedure called debulking), so Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy may be more effective. Surgery may be performed to improve symptoms such as extreme Pain and Nausea or vomiting, when a tumour blocks the intestine. Surgically extracting metastases rarely results in a cure because it is difficult to locate all the tumours. However, under certain types of cancer (such as renal cell cancer) that have quite a small number of metastases, especially to the liver, brain, or lungs, surgical removal of the metastases can be helpful. Surgery may be used on its own or together with other therapies, such as Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy.

When a tumour has been removed, additional Surgery may be required to enhance the comfort or quality of life of the person (for example, after mastectomy, reconstruction of a breast).

The effectiveness of Surgery to treat cancer and its positive result varies depending on the form, stage, size, spread, and location of the cancer. Surgery in the initial stages of cancer results in fairly good outcomes for treatment.

Surgery may be your only way of treatment, but often radiotherapy, drug therapy, such as cytotoxic drugs, or both combined. Combination therapy is used as cancer cells can detach themselves from the tumour and move through the body elsewhere, often even at a very early stage, which Surgery can not avoid. Additional treatment, or adjuvant, is used to destroy detached cancer cells.