Surgery to Treat Cancer

For many types of cancers, surgical treatment alone or in combination with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy offers the best chance for a cure. Baptist Cancer Center offers surgical procedures appropriate to specific cancers to help ensure positive outcomes.

With innovative technologies, procedures and experience going back over two decades, the Baptist Cancer Center's surgical cancer diagnosis and treatments lead the way for the Mid-South. We employ advanced technology such as CyberKnife and da Vinci that provide precise, non-invasive treatment for tumors anywhere in the body. Baptist Cancer Center also offers stem cell transplants and high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell support as part of an integrated system dedicated to transplantation by leading cancer physicians.

How Surgery Can Be Used to Treat Cancer

Surgery may be used as a primary treatment for cancer, or in addition to other types of therapies. There are multiple reasons why oncologists would recommend surgery as part of a patient's treatment plan, including:


Preventative surgery is often performed on a patient who is at risk for developing a certain type of cancer. This type of surgery may be used to remove pre-cancerous cysts or polyps or entire organs.

For example, a woman with a family history of breast cancer who is also found to carry a breast cancer gene may undergo a preventative mastectomy to prevent future cancer.


In order to properly diagnosis various types of cancers, biopsies must often be performed. In this type of procedure, a surgeon removes a sample of cells to be tested. If the cells are found to be malignant, additional treatment may be necessary.


Along with additional diagnostic testing, surgery may be used to determine the advancement of certain types of cancer. During surgery, the size of the tumor can be determined as well as if the cancer cells have spread to surrounding tissue.


Surgery may be considered the best course of treatment for certain types of cancers. If it's determined that a tumor is localized – that it hasn't spread to surrounding areas – and can be fully removed, surgery may be used as a primary means of treatment.


Debulking surgery may be performed in order to remove parts of tumors. This route may be taken when fully removing a tumor isn't an option, for example, if removing a tumor would affect the functionality of a vital organ. After the bulk of a tumor is removed, additional radiation or chemotherapy treatment may be used to treat the remaining cancer cells.


Palliative surgery may be performed as a means of controlling pain or side effects of cancer and improve quality of life. Palliative surgery isn't used as a means of treatment for cancer.


Reconstructive surgery may be recommended to improve appearance or functionality of body parts following cancer treatment. For example, a woman may undergo breast reconstruction surgery following a mastectomy to treat breast cancer.