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If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you and your doctor may have decided that you need a surgical procedure. Surgery is an effective method to get rid of the cancer. Today, advances in surgery mean that surgery is more precise, safer and more successful than ever before.

Your cancer surgeon (surgical oncologist) is an important member of your team. At Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, our surgeons are skilled in all types of surgery, from routine biopsy procedures to intricate surgeries. We work with you to find the solution that has the highest chance of destroying the cancer while maintaining your quality of life.

Surgery for Cancer: Why Choose Vanderbilt-Ingram

At Vanderbilt-Ingram, you will find expert surgical care. Our surgeons specialize in specific types of cancer, so they are skilled and experienced at performing these procedures.

At Vanderbilt-Ingram, you will find:

  • Surgeons who specialize in cancer surgery: Our surgeons have extensive training and experience in surgical oncology – performing surgery for patients with cancer. This training is beyond general surgical training and specifically focuses on the unique needs of patients with cancer. In addition, our surgical oncologists specialize in one or two types of cancer, rather than all types of cancer surgery. This dedicated focus gives our surgical team the ability to perform complex, rare operations with excellent results. Research has shown that when surgeons perform more of a specific surgery, it leads to better results for the patient.
  • Expertise in minimally invasive procedures: These procedures – including laparoscopic surgery, endoscopic surgery and robotic-assisted surgery – typically use smaller incisions and offer more precision. This approach results in a more accurate surgery and an easier, more comfortable recovery. We will discuss with you whether a minimally invasive procedure is the right approach for you.
  • The right decision for you: We have cared for thousands of patients at our center. Our breadth and depth of knowledge means we can work with you to determine your best surgical option. We perform intricate procedures while taking steps to help you maintain a high quality of life after the surgery. We always have your health and long-term well-being in mind when we recommend a treatment.
  • Surgery for every cancer type: Some cancer surgeries are more routine – for example, removing a small tumor that hasn’t spread. Some, such as parathyroid tumor removal, can be more complex. No matter what brings you to our center, we know it is not routine for you. We apply the same rigor, precision and thoroughness to every surgery we perform. Our cancer surgeons have expertise in performing surgery for all types of cancer. 
  • Team of specialists: “It takes a village” applies to surgery for cancer. Our surgeons consult with specialists from many different departments to ensure a safe, precise procedure for you. This “village” of cancer experts ensures that you get the comprehensive care you need.

Types of Surgery for Cancer

Our skilled surgeons perform all types of surgical procedures:

  • Biopsy: A diagnostic procedure in which we remove a small sample of tissues from the affected area to examine under a microscope.
  • Resection: This is a procedure to resect, or remove, the tumor. We often remove some surrounding tissue as well to ensure that we remove all the cancer cells. Our skilled, expert surgeons have extensive experience performing these involved procedures, safely and effectively.
  • Reconstructive surgery: You may need reconstructive surgery to restore your function and appearance after surgery for cancer. For example, a woman may choose to undergo reconstructive breast surgery.
  • Palliative surgery: Sometimes, surgery cannot cure the cancer, but we can perform a procedure to help make you more comfortable and reduce your symptoms.

You may have surgery as part of a larger treatment plan that may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy. We work with expert medical oncologists and radiation therapists to create your comprehensive treatment plan.

Anesthesia and Pain Management

Your comfort is one of our top priorities. We will discuss your specific anesthesia and pain management plan before your procedure. After the surgery, we will make sure you are comfortable during your recovery.

Cancer Surgery at Vanderbilt-Ingram: Advanced Technology

We will discuss your surgical options with you so you can make an informed decision about your care. We are constantly working to improve surgical techniques so we can offer you a procedure that’s as safe, effective and precise as possible. One of our goals when determining a surgical approach is for you to be able to maintain your function as much as possible, so you can life a full, active life after the surgery.

Innovative surgical techniques we use include:

  • Laparoscopic surgery: This type of minimally invasive procedure uses small incisions and miniature instruments, instead of a large abdominal incision used in traditional surgery. A camera enables your surgeon to see a detailed view of the surgical area in real-time, so we can perform the most precise procedure possible. Generally, a laparoscopic procedure results in a shorter, easier recovery for you.
  • Robotic surgery: A robotic assisted surgery is a type of laparoscopic surgery. Your surgeon performs the surgery using a robotic surgical system. The surgeon controls the robot, which has greater dexterity than a human hand and can access hard-to-reach places. The robotic system is also beneficial when performing surgery on an area next to delicate nerves and tissue (such prostate surgery), because it allows the surgeon to remove the tumor without damaging the healthy tissue.

After Surgery for Cancer

Cancer affects all aspects of your life, and it affects you even after treatments are completed. We offer robust support services – including a survivorship program and an integrative care center – to help you during treatment and in your life after treatment.