Surgical Oncology

Surgical oncology uses various surgical procedures to treat cancer. This field of medicine focuses on identifying tumors and removing them from the body. Oncologists are healthcare experts who diagnose and treat cancer. Surgical oncologists use surgery to improve the patient's condition. They use surgery to remove harmful tumors and nearby tissues that may have cancer cells.

Surgical Oncology

What Cancers do Surgical Oncologists Treat?

Surgery is an effective treatment for most types of cancers. Some cancer types that surgical oncologists treat include Breast, Liver, Kidney, Skin, Throat, Esophagus, Lung, Spine, Bones, Colon, Gallbladder, Pancreas, and Uterus.

What is the Objective of Surgical Oncology?

Surgical oncology is generally used to:

  • Eliminate tissues that may have cancer
  • Know where cancer is located, whether it has reached other parts of the body
  • Diagnose and remove tumors from the body
  • Back other treatment types like installing an infusion port
  • Ease side effects and reinstate the body's appearance

What Tests or Diagnostic Procedures are Done Under Surgical Oncology?

Several diagnostic tests are conducted to diagnose various types of cancer and plan an appropriate treatment plan for the patient. Here are some of the common tests and procedures:

  • Biopsy: Biopsy is a procedure where a tiny sample of tissue is extracted from the suspicious area. The sample is then inspected under the microscope to find out whether cancer cells are present
  • Imaging scans: Imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and PET scans are performed to locate the tumor, determine its size, and assess whether the cancer has extended to other body parts.
  • Lymph node biopsy: The surgeons may conduct a biopsy of the surrounding lymph nodes to know if the cancer has spread there.
  • Genetic testing: In genetic testing, various diagnostic procedures are used to search for specific gene alterations or mutations.
  • Endoscopy: Endoscopy involves using a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope to see inside the body. The endoscope has a light and camera attached to it on the end, it helps the surgeons to see tumors, if present in the respiratory tract and internal organs.

What are the Various Treatment Options in Surgical Oncology?

Here are some common surgeries performed in surgical oncology:

  • Tumor Resection: Tumor resection is one of the main surgical procedures conducted to treat cancers. In this procedure, the goal is to eliminate as much tumor as possible from the body. There are instances where the tumor is present at inaccessible locations, in that case, the surgeon removes the complete organ from the body where cancer is present.
  • Mastectomy: Mastectomy is a procedure to treat breast cancer. In this procedure, one or both breasts are removed. This procedure is typically advised for females with breast cancer or who are at a high risk of developing it. Surgeons may recommend a preventative mastectomy to stop the growth of breast cancer.
  • Thyroidectomy: Thyroidectomy is performed to treat thyroid cancer. In this procedure, the entire or a part of the thyroid gland is removed to treat cancer. This surgery is conducted if your goiter has become enlarged and is making it difficult for you to swallow, you have thyrotoxicosis ( high levels of thyroid hormones) or have a lump that causes thyroid cancer.
  • Debulking Surgery (cytoreductive surgery): This surgery is performed to remove a maximum tumor from the body. It aims to reduce the size of the tumor and is preferred in cases where full tumor removal isn't possible. Debulking surgery helps relieve cancer symptoms that are caused due to its size, which include compression of nearby structures, swelling, weight loss, etc.
  • Prostatectomy: When prostate cancer is present in the body, a procedure called prostatectomy (removing the prostate gland) is carried out. There are various types of prostatectomy, including radical prostatectomy and nerve-sparing prostatectomy. In radical prostatectomy, both the prostate gland ( gland below the bladder in men) and seminal vesicles are removed. Nerve-sparing prostatectomy is a procedure where the surgeons avoid removing nerves near the prostate.

Surgery is an effective treatment option for all early-stage cancers. However, healthcare providers prefer using a combination of treatment options such as radiation and chemotherapy. At Marengo Asia Hospitals, our oncology team creates an individualized treatment plan for every patient to meet their needs.

Typically, immediately after the patient gets diagnosed with cancer, the healthcare team starts with the treatment. However, it depends on the surgeon whether they opt for surgery, or choose other treatment options like chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, etc. If surgery is the first selected treatment option, the patient normally undergoes surgery within a week or two of deciding the course of action. However, the treatment of cancer varies from person to person. A doctor may recommend starting with chemotherapy, followed by the surgical procedure. In this case, the surgery may take place later.

Cryosurgery is a procedure wherein the surgeon utilizes liquid nitrogen to freeze and then destroy cancer cells in the body.

Radiation therapy causes hair loss only when the area of treatment is the head, brain, or scalp. It means that hair loss is a common side effect of a patient undergoing radiotherapy. Generally, hair loss begins after 15 to 20 days of starting the treatment. Radiotherapy treatment to the breasts results in hair loss at the armpit, whereas hair loss in men generally occurs at the beard or mustache area.

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