Cancer surgery is when doctors operate on you to cut out your cancer. Usually, doctors operate only when:
If your cancer hasn’t spread through your body, surgery may cure you. But once the cancer has spread, cutting out the original cancer won't cure you. The remaining cancer will continue to grow and spread. Your doctor will do tests before surgery to see if the cancer has spread. You may have a CT scan, MRI, or other tests.
However, those tests can't find microscopic bits of cancer. So, during surgery, your doctor often takes out lymph nodes that are near the tumor. Lymph nodes are tiny bean-shaped organs that are part of your body's immune defenses. Cancer often first spreads to these nearby lymph nodes. The laboratory will test the lymph nodes to see whether the cancer has started to spread.
After your tumor has been taken out, you may have more surgery. For example, after a mastectomy (removal of a breast) to treat breast cancer, you may have surgery to rebuild the shape and look of your breast, called breast reconstruction.
Depending on what type of cancer you have, your doctor may also give you:
You may get these treatments before or after your surgery.