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Surgery involves the removal of cancerous tissue from the body. It is the primary treatment for many types of cancer, and some cancers can be cured with surgery. Surgery can also confirm a diagnosis (biopsy), determine how far a person’s cancer has advanced (staging), relieve side effects (such as an obstruction), or ease pain (palliative surgery).

Some types of surgery can be performed in a clinic or doctor’s office instead of the hospital. This is called outpatient surgery. Most cancer surgeries, though, will be performed in a hospital. Before surgery, consider preparing a list of questions for the surgeon. Carefully review with your doctor any preparation you may need before surgery.

The side effects of surgery depend on the type of surgery and the health of the person before surgery. One of the more common side effects is pain, which can be successfully treated in most people. Refer to individual Cancer Type sections for more information about surgical procedures for specific cancers.