Surgical Oncology: Treatment Planning
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Developing your treatment plan: Diagnostic tests and procedures
Before you begin treatment, the surgical oncology team will use sophisticated diagnostic procedures and tests to accurately determine the location and stage (extent) of the disease.
Some of the specific diagnostic procedures you may receive include the following:
- Biopsy: The removal and examination of a small piece of tissue to check for cancer cells. A biopsy can determine which type of cancer is present and whether the cancer began at the site of the biopsy sample, or started somewhere else in the body and spread to the site of the biopsy sample. Biopsies can also be used for chemotherapy resistance studies.
Some common types of biopsy procedures include: removing a sample of tissue (e.g., incisional biopsy), removing an entire tumor or lesion (e.g., excisional biopsy), and removing a sample of tissue or fluid with a needle (e.g., core biopsy, needle biopsy, fine needle aspiration).
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy: A biopsy of the sentinel lymph node, or the first lymph node to which cancerous cells are likely to spread from the primary tumor location. During the procedure, a radioactive substance and/or a dye is injected near a tumor to identify the sentinel lymph node(s). Then, the first (sentinel) lymph nodes that pick up the dye are removed to check for the presence of cancer cells. Sentinel lymph node biopsies are useful for cancer diagnosis and staging. In addition, a sentinel node biopsy is sometimes used instead of standard lymph node dissection because it involves removing fewer lymph nodes.
- Surgical ultrasound: A versatile imaging technology that uses high-energy sound waves to construct precise images of internal organs and tissues within the body. Surgical ultrasound may be used to isolate the precise location of cancerous tissue before a surgical procedure, or to directly destroy cancerous cells.
The goal of Eastern's Department of Surgical Oncology is twofold. Your surgical oncologist wants to provide you with advanced options to fight cancer. And, they also want to help you make informed decisions about your care so you can feel confident in your surgical treatment plan.
Before, during and after your procedure, the surgical oncology team will take time to educate you about what to expect, answer your questions, and listen to your concerns.
Thinking outside the box
Since many patients come to CTCA with advanced stage disease, the surgical oncology team must think outside the box to provide innovative new options to fight cancer and improve quality of life.
“We are willing to talk with patients and think outside of the box. We are willing to look for options when people have exhausted conventional options or options available through their current treatment provider,” says Dr. Standiford. “Sometimes we think outside the box, and sometimes we think outside the factory where we they build the boxes,” he adds.