Based on your unique needs, a multidisciplinary team of HonorHealth experts will collaborate to determine the best way to treat your cancer.

When a tumor is small, solid and contained in one area, surgery may be the best treatment. Sometimes surgery may be the only treatment you need, but your doctors often will use it in conjunction with other treatments. Surgery may not be used alone for a cancer that has spread throughout your body.

Types of cancer surgery

Your surgeon will decide on the best way to remove your tumor. An open incision may work best, or a minimally invasive surgical approach called laparoscopy may be a better option. It uses a few small incisions, special surgical tools and a tiny camera inserted through a long, thin tube. This type of surgery can lessen pain, shorten your hospital stay and reduce recovery time.

Another type of minimally invasive surgical procedure uses robotics. It allows surgeons to:

  • Pursue alternatives to invasive open surgical procedures
  • Perform more delicate and precise procedures
  • Use smaller incisions compared with typical open surgery, resulting in less scarring
  • Perform single-incision surgery when appropriate

Patients who have had minimally invasive surgery commonly require less recovery time and report less postoperative pain.

HonorHealth surgeons provide a wide range of specialty expertise at the health system's five medical centers including:

  • Gynecologic cancer surgery: This includes surgery for ovarian, endometrial, uterine and cervical cancer, using minimally invasive surgery when possible.
  • Breast cancer surgery: This is the only way a doctor can touch your tumor and inspect it. Once the tumor is removed, a pathologist will examine it closely under a microscope.
  • Colon cancer surgery: When you catch colon cancer early through screening exams such as colonoscopy, your prognosis improves significantly. Less invasive surgery to remove the cancer is a significant benefit of an early diagnosis.

Pre-surgery tests

A nurse will call you to discuss tests and exams you need before your surgery. Common pre-surgery tests include:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram

Please follow instructions about eating and drinking before surgery. If you don't, your surgery may need to be rescheduled.

You may also learn about supplies, such as bandages, you'll need to care for your wounds after surgery.

What will happen during surgery?

Once you're under anesthesia, your surgeon will remove the cancer. Healthy tissue around the tumor also may be taken out to boost the likelihood that all the cancer is gone.

Your surgeon might also may remove lymph nodes or other tissues near the tumor. A pathologist will examine the tissues under a microscope to see if the cancer has spread. Knowing if the nearby tissue contains cancer will help guide your medical team's treatment plan for you after surgery.

What happens after surgery?

After surgery, you can expect to have pain where the operation took place. Using your feedback about your pain level, your doctors and nurses will help manage your discomfort.

After you go home, you'll have one or more visits with your surgeon. Your surgeon will remove any non-dissolvable stitches and check to see that you're healing as expected.

Your care team also will decide on the best treatment plan for you after surgery - is chemotherapy necessary? Would radiation help ensure that all cancer cells are eradicated?

Costs of cancer surgery

Your surgery's cost depends on many factors including:

  • The kind of surgery you have
  • The number of specialists involved in your operation
  • If you have local or general anesthesia
  • If you have surgery in an outpatient facility or at a hospital
  • How long you stay in the hospital, if necessary