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Surgery is used as a treatment for many cancers. It can be used on its own or in addition to other treatments such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Carsten Palme

What does surgery involve?

Surgery involves cutting away tumour by using scalpel or lasers. Your doctor may recommend surgery for a number of reasons:

  • To diagnose or confirm cancer
  • Staging, ie to determine the size and extent of the cancer
  • As a treatment to cure cancer
  • To reconstruct a part of your body
  • To prevent or reduce the risk of cancer
  • To control symptoms or extend life

What happens after I decide to proceed with surgery?

You will need to come into hospital and there are a number of options depending on the extent of surgery.

  •  If it is a minor operation, it may be performed in the cancer care clinic under local anaesthetic and you will be able to return home after the procedure.
  • For smaller operations where a general anaesthetic or sedation is required, you will need to be admitted in a day surgery unit. You can usually be discharged on that afternoon or evening but you must make arrangements to be collected by your friends or relative.
  • For larger operations, you will be admitted to a ward for overnight or longer stay until you are medically fit to return home.

Do I need to see an anaesthetist before surgery?

  • Before surgery, we may ask you to attend the pre-admission clinic where you will meet the anaesthetic team and/or other health professionals.
  • Not everyone need to attend the pre-admission clinic. If you are having a minor procedure and /or you have no major medical illnesses, your anaesthetist will see you on the day of the surgery.
  • If you are required to attend the pre-admission clinic, your general health will be assessed there to ensure you are well enough for general anaesthesia and surgery. Further investigations such as blood tests and X ray can be organised.
  • You should bring a list of your current medications and all recent investigations to the clinic.
  • You will be given written information about fasting and which medications you should or should not take prior to surgery.

Below are a number of valuable educational resources about surgery for the treatment of cancer

Cancer Institute NSW

What is cancer surgery and how will it affect me?

Cancer Council

Surgery for different types of cancer

Cancer Research UK

Surgery to treat cancer.

Cancer Australia

Surgery to treat breast cancer.

Cancer Australia

Surgery to treat bowel cancer.

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia

Surgery to treat prostate cancer.

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