Cancer surgery is one of the most basic and common forms of cancer treatment. It is the physical removal of cancerous tumors from the body and is quite effective in the early stages of the disease. A proper and efficient post-treatment care is very important to gain maximum from the surgery. This also helps in avoiding the recurrence of cancerous cells and minimizing the side effects of cancer treatment.
What is cancer surgery?
Cancer surgery basically means the removal of cancerous or pre-cancerous tumors by surgical methods. Surgery is performed only if the chances of treating tumor are high. This method is less intense as compared to chemotherapy and radiation therapy and usually comes with fewer side effects.
Surgery for cancer has to be performed at the point of origin of cancerous tumor. The process involves either repairing or removing a part of the body and depends on the organ in which the malignant tumors originate. An attempt is made to remove the infected cells and tissues if they have not spread to large areas thus, causing the least damage to the infected organ. Whole of the organ is removed by surgery if the tumors exhibit a tendency to metastasize and are in a position to spread to other areas through bloodstream and lymph nodes.
Cancer may also be caused due to hereditary reasons, genetic factors or hormonal disorders. Those having personal or family history of cancer are highly prone to cancer invasion and need a severe treatment to curb cancerous growth. Surgery can be recommended to such victims but has to be combined with other forms of treatment like exposure to radiations or chemicals. These treatments are usually recommended in the second or third stage of the disease where surgical methods alone prove inefficient.
Factors considered for cancer surgery
Age is one of the basic factors considered before recommending surgery for cancer. The disease is more prevalent in adults and the risk of cancerous infection increases with age. Also, old people suffer more health complications as compared to young adults and the pattern of treatment to be followed differs accordingly. Cancer recovery is slower in old people as compared to young ones and the treatment to be undertaken has to suit their body sustainability. Hence, age of the victim must be considered to judge the feasibility of surgery for cancer.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the major causes of generation of cancer cells in the body. It is caused due to unhealthy sex practices and involvement in multiple sex-partners. Such people may not benefit sufficiently from surgical methods alone as their body resistance is considerably weak to oppose redevelopment of tumors. People suffering from AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and other sexually transmitted disease are also not that responsive to surgical methods of treating cancer and may have to undergo advanced form of treatment.
Immune system of the person has also to be considered before recommending surgery. People with weak immune system require more time to recover from cancer treatments and post-treatment care has to be more systematic and planned as compared to those with strong immune system. Also, basic health issues like infections and ulcers may pave the way for generation of malignant tumors if the immune system is weak. Thus, surgery may not be a practical option to treat tumors that develop in such people.
Location and stage of cancer is also important to decide whether the tumor can be eliminated by surgery. Some cancers develop fast and metastasize at a high rate. Especially the cancers that develop in vital organs like blood, lymph nodes, bones, skin, lungs or abdomen attack some of the vital body parts right in the initial stages and spread uncontrollably. In such cancers, it is very difficult to detect the origin of cancerous cells and restrict them in a particular area. Thus, surgical methods are not that effective in such cases. Also, the intensity of different cancers can be different even though they belong to similar stages. Thus, the severity of blood cancer may be different in the third stage as compared to the severity of bone cancer in the same stage. Thus, both location and stage of cancer is important.
Types of cancer surgery
Surgery for cancer can be of various types and mostly depends upon the sustainability of the patient to withstand the treatment.
Laser surgery - Powerful and focused beam of light is passed to kill the tumor cells and prevent their redevelopment
Electrosurgery - An electric current of high-frequency is passed to destroy the infected cells. They may also affect the adjacent areas but usually do not cause serious damage to healthy cells and tissues.
Cryosurgery - Liquid nitrogen is sprayed on the abnormal cells. This freezes the infected area to a limit intolerable to cancer cells and kills them instantly.
Laparoscopic surgery - It is commonly used in treating hernias and removing gallbladders. A thin, flexible tube is passed into the body to detect and treat the malignant tumors. It is also used as an important diagnosis technique in many types of cancers.
Cancer surgery plays a vital role in treating the disease with minimum damage to the body. Most of the cancers are completely treatable if detected and diagnosed in early stages. Thus, understanding surgery for cancer is very important in such cases. The pattern of surgery largely depends on the type of diagnosis techniques used and the intensity of medication undergone to treat other body disorders which may not be necessarily cancerous.