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Most people with cancer will undergo some form of surgery as part of their treatment. Surgery may be used in diagnosing cancer, staging cancer, treating cancer, debulking, relieving cancer symptoms, and even preventing cancer.

Surgical Oncology Specialists

Surgical oncologists play a crucial role in your treatment, working with you to determine a personalized evidence-based treatment plan designed to meet your needs. As with our entire team, we stay focused on the main goal – helping you get back to living your life to the fullest.

Our specialty trained board-certified surgical oncologists are part of our comprehensive cancer team. Their training and expertise allows Northside Hospital Cancer Institute to offer the most advanced treatment options for all types of cancer surgeries.

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Surgical Options

Many cancer treatment paths include meeting with a surgical oncologist and undergoing some form of surgery as part of your treatment. Several types of surgery can help people with cancer. Some surgeries are used along with other types of can cancer treatment.

There are several types of cancer surgeries that may be recommended including:

  • Curative surgery involves removal of a cancerous tumor from the body. Surgeons use it when the tumor is limited to a certain part of the body. This type of treatment is often the main treatment. But other types of cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, may be used before or after the tumor has been removed.

  • Preventive surgery is used to remove tissue that does not have cancer cells but may develop into a malignant tumor. For example, polyps in the colon may be considered precancerous tissue. Surgery may be done to take them out. Preventive surgery is also known as prophylactic surgery.

  • Diagnostic surgery helps to determine whether cells are cancerous. Diagnostic surgery is used to remove a tissue sample, called a biopsy, for testing and evaluation. The tissue samples help to confirm a diagnosis, identify the type of cancer, and determine the stage of the cancer.

  • Staging surgery works to uncover the size of the cancer or the degree of the disease in the body. Laparoscopy is an example of this type of surgery. It allows the surgeon to look inside the body and remove tissue samples through a small incision.

  • Debulking surgery takes out a part, though not all, of a cancerous tumor. It is used in certain situations when removing an entire tumor may cause damage to an organ or the body. Other types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation, may be used after this treatment is completed.

  • Palliative surgery may be used to treat cancer at advanced stages. It does not work to cure cancer. But it may be used to ease discomfort or to correct other problems cancer or treatment may have created to try and improve a patient’s quality of life.

  • Supportive surgery is used to help other cancer treatments work better. An example of supportive surgery is the insertion of a catheter to help with treatments and to draw blood instead of putting needles in the arm.

  • Restorative (reconstructive) surgery is used to change or restore a person’s appearance or the function of a body part following cancer treatment. For example, women with breast cancer sometimes need breast reconstruction surgery to restore the shape of the affected breast.

Robotic Surgery

At Northside Hospital, our surgical oncologists are leaders in performing minimally-invasive robot-assisted surgeries as part of cancer treatment. This highly technical surgery allows surgeons to operate with increased precision and versatility. Patients benefit with minimal scarring, less bleeding, shorter hospital stays and reduced recovery time. Robotic surgery is generally used to treat the following cancers:

Ablation Therapy

Ablation therapy refers to treatments that destroy tumors without removing them, usually with extreme heat or cold. These techniques are used in patients with a few small tumors and when surgery is not a good option (often because of poor health). They are less likely to cure the cancer than surgery, but they can still be very helpful for some people.

Often, ablation can be done without surgery by inserting a needle or probe into the tumor through the skin. The needle or probe is guided into place with ultrasound or CT scanning. Sometimes, though, to be sure the treatment is aimed at the right place, it may be done during surgery.

Northside offers the following ablation techniques:

  • Cryosurgery (or cryotherapy)
  • Ethanol (alcohol) ablation
  • Microwave ablation
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)

Embolization Therapy

Embolization therapy is a cancer treatment procedure that injects substances to try to block or reduce the blood flow to cancer cells. This option allows doctors to focus on treating metastatic tumors, while limiting the treatment effects on healthy parts of the body. It is an option for some patients with tumors that cannot be removed by surgery. It can be used for tumors that are too large to be treated with ablation. Embolization can also be used alongside ablation therapy.

  • Arterial embolization
  • Chemoembolization
  • Radioembolization