This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by

Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science

This page was updated on April 29, 2022.

Surgical cancer treatments

Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and certain cancer-related symptoms. Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and whether the patient has other illness or conditions.

Surgery may also be an option to repair damage to skin, bones and other tissue caused by cancer or by cancer treatment. Surgery may also be a palliative treatment to remove obstructions in the lungs or throat or remove tumors that are causing pain.

For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant) or after surgery (adjuvant) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.

Common side effects of surgery

Treatment with surgery may cause certain side effects, including:

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