Cancer Surgery

Surgical Treatment of Cancer

Surgical treatment is the primary curative treatment of most local and solid cancerous tumours. Surgery is used to remove the cancerous tumour and often also healthy surrounding tissue. In addition, lymph nodes located nearby may be removed. This is done to minimise the risk of local recurrence and spread of the tumour.

It depends individually on the growth method, degree of differentiation and spread of cancer how extensive the required surgery is and whether post-operative adjuvant therapies are needed, such as radiation therapy and pharmacotherapies.

Usually a conserving surgery, where only the affected area is removed, is sufficient for the removal of a tumour discovered at an early stage. In such cases, the long-term side effects of the surgery remain as minor as possible.

Sometimes, if the tumour is large or situated in a difficult place, it cannot be removed completely with surgery. However, surgery can be applied to decrease its size and the treatment continued with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Metastases sent by the cancerous tumour can also be removed surgically.

If the tumour is located in an area where the cons of surgical treatment outweigh the pros, radiation therapy and pharmacotherapies may be considered instead of surgery.

Advancing surgical procedures

Alongside traditional open surgery, less-or minimally invasive surgical procedures have been developed. Endoscopically performed or robot-assisted surgeries have a shorter recovery time and the disadvantages of large surgical incisions can be avoided.

Robot-assisted endoscopic surgeries are performed with the help of mechanical arms guided by the surgeon via a separate console. This technology enables better visibility and performance, especially in the pelvic floor, but it can also be utilised at other places in the abdominal cavity or in the area of the thoracic cavity.

The most recent technology is 3D laparoscopy, which is used in prostate surgeries in particular. Its benefit is a three-dimensional, enlarged and very precise image that makes the surgeon’s work much easier.

Surgical treatment at different stages of cancer

Radical surgery

The aim of radical surgery is to achieve a curative treatment where all visible tumour tissue is removed surgically. After a radical surgery, however, adjuvant therapies may also be used in order to try to destroy cancer cells, which may be located elsewhere in the body and are impossible to detect by any form of examination.

Symptom-relieving surgery

In cases where the cancerous tumour cannot be surgically removed, a surgery to alleviate the local symptoms caused by the tumour can be performed. These are typical in cases such as an intestinal obstruction, bile duct obstruction or difficulty in passing urine.

Surgical treatment of recurring cancer

A tumour recurring locally can be retreated with radical surgery, if enabled by the location of the tumour. Radiation therapy and pharmacotherapy are primarily used to treat metastases, but individual metastases can also be surgically removed, for example, from the lungs, liver, bones or lymph nodes.

Preventative surgical treatment

The risk of some cancer types may be individually so obvious that a preventative surgery is performed before the cancer type manifests itself. This may be possible, for example, in the case of hereditary intestinal cancer or a certain breast cancer gene.

Reconstructive surgery

If a cancer surgery causes significant harm or weakening of the quality of life, a reconstructive surgery can also be performed. A removed breast, for example, can be replaced by reconstructing a new breast using the body’s own tissue or artificial material.