Surgery, in cancer treatment, is a procedure that aims to completely remove a tumour or cancerous tissue from a specific place in the body.
Cancer surgery is generally not done at the BC Cancer Agency, although the Vancouver Centre
does some minor procedures such as biopsies.
If surgery is part of your treatment plan, you will be referred to a hospital for your procedure.
Surgery is often the first step in cancer treatment because it can be used to both diagnose and/or treat cancer. More than half of the people diagnosed with cancer will have some type of surgery or operation at some point.
Surgery can be used to remove tumours confined to a small space. Surgery can also be used to reduce the size of large tumours so that follow-up treatment by radiation therapy or chemotherapy will be even more effective.
Surgery alone sometimes cures cancer. Sometimes it is used in conjunction with other treatments such as chemotherapy (cancer drugs) or radiation therapy.
In addition to curing cancer, surgery can also be used as a preventive measure by removing pre-cancerous conditions. Surgery may also be recommended as a palliative method to help reduce pain or other symptoms.