Cancer Surgery

Cancer Surgery

Surgery to Remove Cancer

The foundation of your cancer treatment is cancer surgery to remove a diseased part of your body to diagnose or treat cancer. Common reasons why you might undergo cancer surgery include:


If you are at high risk of developing cancer in certain tissues or organs, your doctor may recommend removing those tissues or organs before cancer develops.


We may use a form of cancer surgery to remove all or part of a tumor so we can study the tumor under a microscope. This will help us determine whether the growth is cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).


How advanced is your cancer? We call this its stage. Surgery allows us to evaluate your tumor size and determine whether it’s spread to your lymph nodes. Additional tests might be necessary to identify the stage of your cancer.

Primary Treatment

For many tumors, cancer surgery is the best chance for a cure, especially if the cancer is localized and hasn’t metastasized (spread).


Sometimes it’s impossible to remove all of a cancerous tumor because doing so may severely damage an organ. In cases like this, we may remove as much of the tumor as possible (called debulking) to make chemotherapy or radiation more effective.

Symptom Relief

We sometimes use surgery to improve your quality of life rather than treat the cancer itself. We may use surgery to relieve pain caused by a tumor that’s pressing on a nerve or bone, or to remove a tumor that’s blocking your intestine. We often combine surgery with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Your decision to undergo additional cancer treatment depends on your type of cancer, its stage, and your overall health.

The primary purpose of cancer surgery is to remove all of it from your body. We usually do this by removing the cancer along with a bit of surrounding healthy tissue to ensure that all of the cancer is gone. We might also remove some nearby lymph nodes to determine whether the cancer has spread. This helps us assess your chance of being cured, as well as the need for additional treatment.

For breast cancer surgery, we may remove the cancer by removing the whole breast in a mastectomy, or by removing only a portion of your breast that contains the cancer and some of the surrounding tissue, which is called a lumpectomy.


In this type of surgery, we use cold material such as liquid nitrogen spray, or a cold probe, to freeze and destroy cancer cells or irregular cells in your cervix that could become cervical cancer.

Laser Surgery

We use this to treat many types of cancer. Laser surgery involves beams of high-intensity light that shrink or vaporize your cancer cells.

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