Surgery

Surgery involves having tissue cut away from your body.

It is used to:

  • diagnose cancer, usually as part of a biopsy
  • remove tumours and the surrounding tissue to cure cancer (resection)
  • prevent or reduce your risk of further tumours
  • control your symptoms
  • reconstruct a part of your body after treatment
Close up of masked surgeons in operating theatre

You may have surgery as an outpatient and come into and leave hospital on the same day. Or you may have it as an inpatient and stay in hospital after the operation to recover. You will have either a local or a general anaesthetic.

Usually, the earlier a cancer is found the easier it is to remove it and surgery may be the only treatment you need. For some patients, results can be improved by having other treatments such as drug and biological therapies, chemotherapy or radiotherapy before and/or after surgery.

You may also have surgery to enable you to have other treatments such as cryotherapy, which uses extreme cold to kill cancer cells, and radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which kills cancer cells using heat made by radio waves.

Cancer Research UK has more information about surgery.