Surgery is a form of cancer treatment. It is also used for other things. Some of the reasons people have cancer surgery are:
to prevent cancer. If you have a high risk of developing cancer in certain tissues or organs, your doctor may recommend removing those tissues or organs before cancer develops.
to diagnose. Your surgeon can take part or all of a tumour so that the cells can be studied under a microscope to figure out if the tissue is cancerous and what type of cancer it is.
to stage the disease. Surgery allows your doctor to evaluate the size of your tumor and determine whether it's travelled to your lymph nodes. Other tests may also be needed.
as a primary treatment. For some types of cancer, surgery is the main form of treatment, if the cancer can all be removed.
to debulk a tumour. Sometimes it’s not possible to take out all of the cancer. Your doctor might remove as much as possible, to help make the other treatment (systemic treatment or radiation) work better.
to relieve symptoms or side effects. Surgery can sometimes be used to relieve pain or improve your quality of life, rather than treat the cancer itself.
Surgery can also be used alongside other cancer treatments, such as systemic or radiation treatment.