Introduction to Surgery

Cancer surgery attempts to completely remove localized tumors or reduce the size of large tumors so that for those patients who require follow-up treatment by radiation or chemotherapy the added therapy will be more effective.

Other than its intent to remove the tumor purpose, cancer surgery may be done as a diagnostic (staging) process or a preventive measure. Surgeries are also performed to relieve pain or repair deformities and abnormalities caused by surgical treatment for cancer.

Sometimes, surgeries for different purposes may take place simultaneously. For example, a primary surgical resection may be performed right after a surgical diagnostic and staging procedure or a primary surgical resection may be followed by a reconstructive surgery.

Generally surgery involves cutting into the body (incision) to explore or remove tissue while the patient is under anesthesia.

Many techniques are used for surgery including

  • Cryosurgery
  • Electrocauterization surgery
  • Laser surgery
  • Gamma knife
  • Robotic
  • Minimally invasive surgery

Minimally invasive surgery limits the extent of surgical incisions and produces less trauma and reduces recovery time. Minimally invasive surgery includes, but is not limited to

  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Laser surgery
  • Cryosurgery
  • Mohs micrographic surgery
  • Endoscopic surgery

These surgical techniques are discussed in greater detail in a separate section.

Updated: December 21, 2023