Cancer surgery is an operation to remove or repair a part of your body to diagnose or treat cancer. It remains the foundation of cancer treatment. Cancer surgery can diagnose or treat cancer or simply relieve the symptoms cancer causes.
The effect of the surgery will vary depending on the location of the cancer and the type of anesthesia used. Most minor surgery can be performed without an overnight stay in the hospital.
Your doctors will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is best for you, including whether you are a candidate for surgery.
When a surgeon has to cut into the body to operate, it’s called invasive surgery. Today, operations that involve less cutting and damage to nearby organs and tissues (less invasive surgery) often can be done to remove tumors while saving as much normal tissue and function as possible.
Surgery offers the greatest chance for cure for many types of cancer, especially those that have not spread to other parts of the body.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
When surgery is necessary for lung cancer patients, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital's thoracic surgery team offers some of the most innovative surgery techniques available in the nation. Our surgeons use smaller incisions that are less painful and spare surrounding muscle to make recovery easier. Technologic advances in instrumentation and video surgery are used so that minimally invasive surgery is possible, even when the surgeons perform major resections.
One such innovation is Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS), which can be used for diagnostic and treatment procedures. Using VATS, surgeries that would have required much more invasive techniques, now are performed using two to three small incisions and tasks such as rib-spreading are not necessary. Tumors in high-risk patients previously deemed inoperable with conventional methods may be amenable to these minimally invasive techniques.
MOHS surgery, a technique used primarily for non-melanoma skin cancers, both removes skin cancers and preserves the healthy tissue around it. The procedure starts with the removal of the obvious tumor. Then the surgeon removes another thin slice of tissue from the same area. It is sectioned to create a map and examined under a microscope while the patient waits. If that tissue shows evidence of further disease, the procedure is repeated until the removed tissue is clean of any cancer cells.
Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB)
Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital became the only hospital in Central Virginia to offer Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB). This endoscopic procedure allows lesions deep in the lungs to be located, biopsied and treated. Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital is using the SuperDimension® iLogic system.
The procedure combines GPS-like technology with a catheter that navigates the patient's natural airways to access lesions.
ENB is an attractive procedure to physicians and patients as it:
- Is a minimally invasive procedure
- Expands access to hard-to-reach areas of the lungs
- Enables earlier diagnosis
- Facilitates earlier decisions regarding treatment options
- Lowers complication rates
Interventional Radiology Treatments
Some organ tumors are simply too difficult to surgically resect and may not be responsive to chemotherapy. In interventional radiology, eligible patients have a further option of having their tumor ablated using a method akin to a microwave.
A probe is inserted into the tumor and heated until the tumor vaporizes. Interventional radiologists at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital have been performing the procedure on liver tumors for some time, but in recent years the constantly evolving techniques have reduced patient time on the table to a matter of minutes.
The ablation procedure has also been used on small kidney tumors in lieu of a nephrectomy and most recently, on small lung tumors.
The interventionalists can also assist the surgeon prior to the removal of kidney tumors by performing pre-operative embolizations so that there is less blood loss during surgery.
Chemoembolization of liver tumors is yet another procedural option performed in VIR. It may be indicated for patients with disease that is primarily confined to the liver but which is not responding adequately to systemic treatments. A catheter is placed directly into the artery feeding the vascular lesions and a chemotherapeutic agent mixed with material to block off the blood flow is infused.