Skilled Surgeons, Advanced Technology
If your cancer is in an early stage, surgery is commonly the first, and possibly only, treatment you’ll receive. It’s most effective for cancers that haven’t spread to other parts of the body.
Types of Surgery
Based on the stage of your cancer, you may only have surgery, or you may have surgery in combination with chemotherapy and/or radiation. For example, you could have a tumor surgically removed, and then have chemotherapy afterward to make sure any cancer cells that have potentially spread within your body are destroyed.
The type of surgery you have depends on the type of cancer you have, and the most effective method of removal. Some surgeries can be more invasive, like a mastectomy, which removes all of the breast tissue on one or both breasts, while others cause less impact on your body. Less invasive surgeries can sometimes be completed on an outpatient basis (meaning you can go home the same day), while more complex procedures often require a hospital stay.
Regardless of the surgery you have, ThedaCare strives to minimize pain before, during, and after your procedure. Here are a few general types:
Open Incision—this involves making a singular incision in the body, and removing a tumor or cancerous tissue through the incision. It can be done as an outpatient procedure, such as a lumpectomy (which involves removing a tumor and some surrounding tissue from the breast), or as an inpatient procedure for more complex cases.
Laparoscopic Surgery—instead of making one large incision, a surgeon makes several small incisions. Plastic tubes, called "ports," are placed in the incisions. Then, operating instruments, and a tiny camera called an endoscope, are inserted into the ports. The camera provides two-dimensional images from inside the body, and allows the surgeon to operate in a minimally invasive way. This is typically an inpatient type of surgery.
da Vinci Robotic Surgery—similar to laparoscopic surgery, robotic-assisted surgery provides three-dimensional images from inside the body, allowing for better depth perception. The advanced, robotic instrumentation, which is controlled only by the surgeon, is designed to mimic the surgical movements of the human hand, wrist, and elbow, providing greater accuracy and control. This is also typically an inpatient procedure.
What Surgery Is Like
While each surgery is different, you can still get a general idea of what to expect. First, you’ll meet with your surgeon, who will discuss your procedure with you. Once in the operating room, you’ll likely see nurses or medical assistants, and an anesthesiologist, who will administer your anesthesia. You may be totally asleep during the procedure, or heavily sedated, depending on the type of surgery you’re having.
Everyone in the room is there to monitor your progress, assist the surgeon, and help you get through your operation safely. When your surgery is over, you’ll be taken to the recovery area. You may be able to go home that same day, or you may be required to stay in the hospital for a day or two, or longer, depending on how extensive your surgery was.
When you’re ready to leave the hospital, make sure someone is available to drive you home. You’ll then continue the rest of your recovery at home, along with regular check-up visits to your surgeon to make sure you’re healing properly.
After surgery you may experience pain and discomfort, especially if you’ve had a more invasive procedure. Your doctor will give you medication to help you manage the pain.
Cancer Surgery Facilities
ThedaCare Cancer Care provides surgical services throughout northeast Wisconsin.
Learn more about treatment facilities.