What is the difference? Cancer surgeries
m Any cancer patient faces the prospect of undergoing surgery, but the type of procedure performed varies greatly in scope, intent, outcome, and other factors. While many surgeries are designed to remove as much of the cancer as possible, some procedures have other goals, and those that work for some patients may not work well for others with the same type of cancer. “Most people want what would be considered curative surgery,” says Diego Muilenburg, MD, a surgical oncologist at our hospital near Phoenix. “But it’s not a template. You have to adapt what you do to the patient. Cancer often has different characteristics, with its own unique biology, its own unique DNA. And while there are many similarities, no two types of cancer are the same, and they respond differently.” And they have different results.”
“Cancers often have distinct characteristics, with their unique biology, their unique DNA. Although there are many similarities, no two cancers are the same, but they respond differently and have different outcomes.” Diego Muilenburg, surgical oncologist
Variations in cancer surgeries range from removing tumors to diagnosis and planning to remove enough to improve a patient’s quality of life. Here are some examples of surgeries that are commonly performed on cancer patients and why.
Diagnostic and staging procedures
A biopsy is a surgical procedure designed to diagnose the type and stage of a tumor. The operation can range from an outpatient procedure performed using a small needle that picks up a sample of the tumor, to a major procedure that requires anesthesia and stitches. Biopsies may be done during other types of surgery and as part of the initial diagnosis, or to help measure disease progression. In some cases, a biopsy may be taken of the lymph nodes and organs surrounding the cancer so that it can be examined to determine how far the disease has spread and whether it has spread.
Primary or curative surgeries
“The goal here is to leave the patient without evidence of disease,” says Derek Beach, MD, FACS, surgical oncologist and chief of surgery at our hospital near Phoenix. This surgery may be done when the cancer is in only one part of the body and there is no evidence to suggest that it has spread locally or has spread. Patients with stage I colorectal cancer, for example, can have primary surgery that removes all evidence of disease and does not require additional treatments. In some cases, surgery may be done before or after other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
precautionary or precautionary measures.
Some patients choose surgery even if they do not have cancer, because they have a family history of the disease or because they carry a genetic mutation that increases the risk of developing cancer. For example, women with a genetic mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have an increased risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. They may choose to have a prophylactic mastectomy and/or removal of the ovaries to reduce the risk of developing cancer. “It can be a very difficult decision for some people,” says Melanie Korpman, MS, LCGC, a certified and licensed genetic counselor at our Hospital in Philadelphia. “In some cases, I have recommended counseling to help them make the decision. Some people may not be ready to make that decision, so I suggest they start screening and see what works for them. There are options.”
Cytoreductive or cytoreductive surgeries
These procedures aim to shrink a tumor or remove visible lumps from an area, often before other treatment, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. This type of surgery can be done before high-temperature intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), a treatment, usually for advanced colorectal, ovarian, or appendix cancer, in which the surgical oncologist administers a warm chemotherapy solution directly into the abdomen after removing multiple tumors from an area of .
As with any type of palliative care, the goal of these surgeries is to relieve discomfort and improve quality of life. For example, surgery may be done to remove a blockage in the colon or blockage in the lungs.
Reconstructive or restorative surgeries
As the name suggests, reconstructive surgery aims to rebuild or restore a part of the body that has been deformed due to surgery. These procedures are especially common after surgery to remove breast or head and neck cancer.
These surgeries are done to insert catheters, ports, or devices that allow patients to receive medications directly into the bloodstream instead of having to receive repeated injections.