When is Cancer Surgery used for Treating Cancer?
Surgery is the most relied upon cancer treatment for the effective removal of cancerous tissues (or tumors) from the body. A surgeon who specializes in treating cancer is know as an oncologist, who will surgically remove all or a portion of cancerous tissue. In cases where not all of a tumor is removed, additional chemotherapy or radiation cancer treatments may be necessary to destroy all cancer cells.
Surgery is used in three distinct ways to treat cancer:
For cancer diagnosis
Surgery is often recommended as a means to diagnose cancer when a doctor suspects tissues may be cancerous (or malignant). Surgeons may extract a part of a tumor or a portion of cells in order to discover if that tissue is for malignant or benign (noncancerous). Staging cancer is also determined with surgery to find out if cancerous cells have spread to other parts of the body (or metastasized) by traveling to the lymph nodes.
To treat cancer
Surgery is the oldest and most effective cancer treatment for localized cancerous tumors. In tsi case, an oncologist will remove cancerous cells and tissues quickly prior to spreading. Should the cancerous tumor be too near a vital organ, surgery will still be used to remove the majority, and additional treatments (i.e., chemotherapy and radiation) will be used to kill any remaining cancerous cells.
As cancer prevention
In cases of inherited diseases, like cancer, surgery is often used as means of prevention. Take for example a family history of breast cancer and detection of the inherited breast cancer gene BRCA1 or BRCA2, which is considered a high risk factor for developing breast cancer in the patient’s future. Surgery can be used to remove the tissue at the patient’s decision in order to lower the risk of developing this type of cancer down the road.