In about 60% of cases, cancer patients undergo surgery. Surgery may be the only treatment needed in some cases. As part of an overall treatment plan, it may also be combined with chemotherapy or radiation.
Cancer surgery can be classified into several types:
Cancerous tumours are removed during curative surgery. It is often followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy if cancer has spread to ensure all cancer cells have been removed
The purpose of preventive surgery is to prevent the development of cancer. Precancerous polyps can be removed before they become cancerous, preventing many colon cancers. Women at high risk for breast cancer due to family history or genetic mutations may decide to have their breasts removed to protect against the disease. Prophylactic surgery is also known as preventive surgery.
As a result of cancer treatment, reconstructive surgery restores the body to its normal or near-normal appearance or function. One of the most common procedures is breast reconstruction following a mastectomy (breast removal). In addition to facial reconstruction, testicular implants are also examples of reconstructive surgery.
The purpose of staging surgery is to determine the extent of cancer. The most common staging performed are CT or PET/CT scan to determine the extend of the cancer. An endoscope may be used to visualise the suspicious area and obtain a tissue sample during staging surgery. A laparoscope is used to visualise abdominal tumours, performed under general anaesthesia through a small incision in the abdomen.
Supportive surgery is used in conjunction with other cancer treatments. Some chemotherapy devices require inserting a port (connecting device) under the skin.
Palliative surgery improves a patient's quality of life by easing pain or other symptoms caused by advanced or incurable cancer. It is imperative to note that palliative surgery is not a cure for cancer or an anticancer treatment.
Through tiny incisions, minimally invasive surgery removes tumours. Robotic arms controlled by surgeons are also capable of performing minimally invasive procedures.