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Cancer Surgery


Surgery is an operation to repair or remove part of your body to diagnosis or treat a condition. It remains the foundation of cancer treatment. Your doctor may use cancer surgery to achieve any number of goals, from diagnosing your cancer to treating it to relieving the symptoms it causes. Cancer surgery may be your only treatment, or it may be supplemented with other treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy.

Cancer surgery may be used to achieve one or more goals including:

  • Diagnosis. Your doctor may use a form of cancer surgery to remove (biopsy) all or part of a tumor—allowing the tumor to be studied under a microscope to determine whether it is cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign).
  • Staging. Surgery helps your doctor determine how advanced your cancer is. This process is called staging. Surgery allows you doctor to evaluate the size of your tumor and determine whether it’s traveled to your lymph nodes. Additional tests might be used to gauge your cancer stage.
  • Primary treatment. For many tumors, surgery is the best chance for a cure, especially if the cancer hasn’t spread (localized). If your doctor believes your cancer hasn’t spread, surgery may be recommended as your primary treatment to remove the cancerous tumor.
  • Debulking. When it’s not possible to remove all of a cancerous tumor—for example, because doing so may severely harm an organ—your doctor may remove as much as possible (debulking) in order to make chemotherapy or radiation more effective.
  • Relieving symptoms or side effects. Sometimes surgery is used to improve your quality of life rather than treat the cancer itself, e.g., to relieve pain caused by a tumor that’s pressing on a nerve or bone. Another example might include removing a tumor that’s obstructing your intestine.
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Touro Infirmary, 1401 Foucher Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70115
Phone: 504-897-7011 Pencil
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