Cancer is one of the most challenging medical conditions to deal with. It is unpredictable, destructive, and untreatable.
Every year, millions of patients get diagnosed with cancer with an incredibly high mortality rate.
Researchers have been trying to develop a curative treatment for cancer since its first discovery. However, all attempts were unsuccessful.
Nevertheless, there are three treatment modalities used to manage cancer:
- Tumor Removal
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What is surgical oncology?
Surgical oncology is a field of medicine that focuses on the surgical removal of cancer tissue from patients. It is a delicate procedure that requires an in-depth knowledge of anatomy and intense pre-surgical testing.
Depending on the location of the tumor, a different surgical specialty will get involved.
For instance, if the patient is dealing with prostate cancer, a urologist will intervene to make tumor removal surgery, while if another patient is diagnosed with uterine cancer, a gynecologist is a leading surgeon in this case.
It is the ideal treatment modality since it leaves the patient cancer-free if done under the right circumstances.
Oftentimes, tumor removal surgery is combined with other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to attain the best possible outcome for a patient.
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Indication for Tumor Removal in cancer patients
Tumor removal surgery is the preferred treatment option for cancer.
however, it is not always used to treat patients. Here are some typical indications to perform tumor removal surgery in cancer patients:
Diagnosis of cancer
The diagnosis of cancer is never 100 percent certain unless a biopsy is obtained. The biopsy is especially beneficial for cases where the oncologist is uncertain of the malignancy of the tumor.
Therefore, a surgical biopsy might be performed to get a tissue sample from the suspected area.
There are two types of surgical biopsies:
- Incisional biopsy, which removes a small piece of the suspected area to study.
- Excisional biopsy, which removes the entire suspected area.
Regardless of the type of biopsy, a pathologist will take a look at the collected sample to study it and determine the presence of any histological signs of cancer.
The pathologist will send a pathology report to your oncologist with the final histological diagnosis of the sample tissue.
Tumor Removal of cancer
This type of surgery is what most people think of when we talk about tumor removal surgery. It involves the surgical removal of the tumor, as well as a small area of healthy tissue that surrounds it.
The area of healthy tissue that is surgically removed is known as a margin. It is discarded to make sure that no cancer cells have traveled from the original cancer location to nearby structures.
Some surgical techniques can be very invasive, while others are less invasive. The type of which your surgeon chooses to perform is based on a case-to-case analysis.
Locate the cancer
This is especially beneficial when imaging techniques are unable to stage cancer accurately. Your surgeon will determine the size of the tumor, its connections to adjacent structures, and whether it has spread to nearby organs.
He/she will then stage cancer, which helps predict the outcome of patients.
Relieve side effects
The surgical procedures that aim at relieving the side effects of cancer fall into the category of palliative treatment.
This type of tumor removal surgery is recommended for patients with advanced and/or end-stage cancer who are suffering from symptoms such as pain, bowel obstruction, and bleeding.
The surgeon will operate these patients to remove their source of discomfort and improve their quality of life. Note that not all surgical procedures involve a huge incision.
some emerging techniques use minimally invasive surgery, such as laparoscopic surgery, laser surgery, cryosurgery, and Mohs micrographic surgery.
Contraindication for Tumor Removal in cancer patients
No one factor contraindicates cancer surgery. Every patient and every cancer have their characteristics that allow us to decide whether it is operable or not.
For example, an old patient who is diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, and has many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, blood hypertension, and liver disease.
This patient cannot undergo the surgical removal of lung cancer since it has already metastasized (spread), and the patient has many risk factors, which can lead to death during the surgery.
Some cancers are notoriously known to spread all over the body, such as small cell lung cancer, which is treated with chemotherapy. In this case, trying surgery would be more damaging than beneficial.
Side effects of the Tumor Removal
There are many side effects to getting tumor removal surgery.
Pain is especially prevalent after the surgery. Over time, the pain will subside until the body completely heals. Your physician may prescribe you some painkillers to reduce its severity.
Most people experience fatigue after significant surgeries. It is due to several causes, including anesthesia, health status, stress, and nourishment.
- Loss of appetite
This side effect is short-lived, and patients start to recover their appetite after the impact of the surgery wears off.
This is commonly seen at the site of the incision. Patients present with fever, swelling of incision area, pain, and pus formation.
This is a medical emergency, and your physician will start you on IV antibiotics to stop the infection before the tissue gets damaged.
- Other symptoms
- Organ dysfunction
Conclusion about tumor removal
Cancer surgery is the closest thing we have to cure cancer. It is a complicated procedure that requires intensive biological and imaging tests before execution.
When combined with other treatment modalities, surgical oncology is a fantastic method to cure cancer and prevent its spread.
In fact, all those campaigns you see online to screen yourself for cancer have the same goal of detecting cancer before it has spread to other organs. In other words, we want to detect cancer before it’s no longer eligible to be surgically removed.