Surgery, also known as a resection, is used to remove the mass in question which may be invading surrounding organs and tissues, causing pain or other symptoms, or may be asymptomatic. The recommendation of surgery as a treatment occurs after careful discussion with your care team to ensure that it is the best possible chance for a cure. In some cases, to give the best outcome, you may require radiation, chemotherapy or both before surgery. Discussion of combined therapies before surgery will be discussed with you to ensure that the best curated plan is made.
Terms that might come up during your discussion with your physician:
- Primary site/tumour – the original location of where the tumour started
- Metastasis – some tumors may spread from the original tumor to other parts of the body
Once you and your physician are in agreement with surgery being the best next step, the process to prepare for surgery begins. To start, your physician will ask you to come in for a clinic visit where you will be required to fill out forms and provide consent for the surgical procedure. Your next visit will be the pre-admission clinic where you will need to bring your OHIP card and current list of medications. We understand the idea of surgery can be daunting, as patients are unsure what the pre-care and after-care entail. Bring a friend or family member with you to your pre-admission appointment so that they can help you gather the information and ask questions. Unsure of where to start, or what to ask? Take a look at our list below:
- Does this surgery require a hospital stay? If so, for how long?
- What do I need to bring with me the day of my surgery?
- Are there any tests to be done before surgery?
- What are possible side effects of this operation? When would they start? How long do they usually last?
- Which side effects should I report right away? Who do I call?
- What can be done to treat side effects?
- How will pain after surgery be treated?
- Is a special diet needed?
- Are there special things that I should or should not do?
- When are follow-up visits scheduled? Who is responsible for follow-up after surgery?
For a more detailed list visit: Getting Ready for and Recovering from Cancer Surgery by American Cancer Society
Once you’ve completed this visit, it’s time to wait for the date of your surgery. Anxiety may increase as the day approaches, but try to remain calm. Continue to stay active and eat healthy, and don’t forget to follow any special diets/guidelines given to you at your preadmission clinic visit.