Surgery and Other Procedures for Cancer Treatment
- How do surgery and other procedures work?
- What are surgery and other procedures used for?
- What are the types of surgery and other procedures?
- What adverse effects can occur with surgery and invasive procedures?
- Which cancers are surgery and other procedures used to treat?
- Small intestine
- Rectum and colon
- Respiratory tract
- Bleeding—This may require blood transfusions from others. Another option is to bank your own blood in the weeks before surgery in case you need it during your operation.
- Damage to internal organs or blood vessels
- Reactions to anesthesia or other medications—Although this complication is rare, it can be very serious. All your vital signs will be monitored throughout the procedure to watch for any signs of a reaction.
- Problems with other organs, such as the heart or kidneys—These are also very rare, but can be life-threatening. This type of complication is more likely to happen to a person who already has problems with these organs.
- Pain—Almost every person who undergoes surgery experiences some level of pain. Although some pain is normal, it should not interfere with your recovery. While there are many effective medications for pain, usually it is the method of their administration that matters most. Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) for example, is a popular form of pain management that allows you to take charge of your own pain. If you are experiencing pain, it is essential that you talk with your doctor to make sure this issue is satisfactorily addressed.
- Infection at the incision site—All healthcare staff take many precautions to minimize the risk of infection at the site of the wound, but it can occur. Antibiotics are usually given to treat these infections. Signs of potential infection include increasing or thickening discharge, spreading redness, swelling, fever, chills, or increasing pain.
- Pneumonia —Smoking, compromised lung function, or previous surgery increase the risk of developing pneumonia. Deep breathing exercises and getting out of bed as soon as possible after surgery are encouraged.
- Other infections within the body—Some procedures carry more risk of infection than others, this is especially true with open abdominal surgeries. In some cases, antibiotics may be given before surgery to prevent infection.
- Bleeding—This can occur either internally or externally, and can occur if a blood vessel was not sealed off during surgery or if a wound reopens.
- Blood clots—These can form in the deep veins of the legs after surgery, especially if you remain in bed for a long time. This can be a serious problem if the clot breaks off and travels to your lung. Try to get out of bed and sit, stand, and walk as soon as possible.
- Slow recovery of normal body functions—An example is movement in the intestines, which can result in constipation.
A guide to cancer surgery. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003022-pdf.pdf. Accessed Accessed May 27, 2015.
Modalities of cancer therapy. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/principles-of-cancer-therapy/modalities-of-cancer-therapy. Updated July 2013. Accessed May 27, 2015.
Surgery. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/surgery. Updated April 29, 2015. Accessed May 27, 2015.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 03/2015 -
- Update Date: 05/27/2015 -