Cancer Surgery deals with the removal of malignant tissue or organs from the body. These surgeries are often combined with other adjunct therapy such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
There are times when surgical excision is all that is necessary to obtain a cure. Close observation afterward is mandatory. In addition to removal of the affected organ, removal of neighboring lymph nodes is also important. Removal of these nodes may not only be therapeutic or beneficial, but may also be diagnostic. It helps to identify those patients that may benefit from additional modes of therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Due to abdominal pain I underwent a CAT scan of my abdomen. I was told I have a pancreatic mass. Now what?
- You should be referred to a surgeon that is comfortable performing pancreatic surgery. Most pancreatic masses will require surgery. The type of surgery depends greatly on the location of the mass within the pancreas.
- Following colon surgery, how long is my recuperation time?
- It is important to remember people may recover at different rates. Most patients will be able to go home after 5-7 days of hospitalization. No heavy lifting (over 10 lbs.) for about 6-8 weeks to allow the incision to heal and prevent an incisional hernia. Most often, activities are comfort related, that is, do what you are comfortable doing.
- How much pain will I experience after colon surgery?
- With open abdominal surgery there will certainly be post-operative pain. Your physician will want you to be walking very soon after surgery. Therefore, they will provide enough pain medication so you can accomplish that task. This is usually administered through the IV until taking food. As you begin to eat, this medication would be switched to an oral route.
- I have breast cancer. Will I need radiation after surgery?
- If you have chosen breast conservation therapy with a lumpectomy, radiation is required to treat the entire breast. If a mastectomy has been chosen, (with or without reconstruction) rarely is radiation necessary. Those situations where radiation is warranted following a mastectomy include significant lymphatic involment of the skin (inflammatory breast cancers) and where numerous (4 or more) lymph nodes are involved with metastatic cancer in the axilla.
- I have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Am I a candidate for "conservative" breast surgery?
- Whether a person is or isn't a candidate for conservative breast surgery usually has to do with tumor size and breast size. Most patients are candidates. Conservative breast surgery does, however, have to be combined with radiation therapy.
- I need surgery for colon cancer. How long will I be in the hospital?
- Most patients are able to be safely discharged in 5-7 days. Prior to going home, a patient should be up and around, eating regular food, and having bowel movements. It may take 3-6 months for your bowel movements to normalize. Initially they may be loose, but with time they will become more formed.
- I need surgery for colon cancer. Will I need to wear a bag (colostomy)?
- Most patients requiring colon surgery do not need a colostomy. The exception would be obstructing cancers, perforated cancers, or cancers lying very low or distal in the rectum.
- I was told I have an adrenal mass. Do I need surgery? Can it be done with a minimally invasive technique?
- Surgery for adrenal tumors depends upon the size of the mass and whether or not it is a functioning tumor. Some adrenal tumors secrete certain compounds that do make surgery necessary. Tumors of the adrenal gland that are five centimeters or larger are recommended for removal because of the risk of being cancer. Most patients with an adrenal tumor are candidates for a laparoscopic approach, as long as your surgeon has the experience necessary to perform such surgery.
- What is a sentinel lymph node?
- The sentinel node is the first lymph node a cancer will spread to. By identifying that node and removing only that node, one may be able to avoid removal of any other lymph nodes. As long as the sentinel node shows no evidence of cancer, no other nodes need to be removed. This technique is appropriate for breast cancer and melanoma.
- Will I need chemotherapy for my breast cancer following surgery?
- Whether or not a patient is a candidate for chemotherapy is not based on which operative procedure she and her physician have chosen (mastectomy vs. conservation therapy). It is usually dependent upon the size of the primary tumor and whether or not the lymph nodes are involved. Most of the time these factors are not known until after surgery. Other factors, such as pre or post menopause state, patients age, and physical condition are also important.