Who is a surgeon or surgical oncologist?
A surgeon is a specialist in surgery. For patients with cancer, surgery is used for many different reasons, such as confirming that a patient has cancer, determining the stage of the cancer, removing the primary tumor, and relieving certain cancer-related symptoms. There are different types of surgeons that are most indicated to treat your tumor type, such as breast surgeons for breast cancer, urologists for prostate, bladder and kidney cancers, or an Ear, Nose & Throat surgeon for a Head and Neck cancer. Other oncology surgical specialities include neurosurgeons, thoracic surgeons, colorectal and gynecological surgeons. Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery depends on several factors such as the type, size, location, and stage of the tumor as well as the patients’ overall health.
Factors in Choosing Surgery
General health factors such as age, physical fitness and other medical conditions can help to determine if surgery is a viable option as well. For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. For patients for whom surgery is not a viable option because of either the size or location of the tumor, radiotherapy or radio-surgery, chemotherapy or hormone therapy may be an appropriate treatment option.
What can you expect when visiting a surgeon?
During an initial consultation, the surgeon will review the documents regarding your cancer diagnosis and ask questions about your past medical history. Have a list of your current medications and dosages available or bring the bottles that contain the dosing information with you. The surgeon will review with you the surgical treatment options that are appropriate for your stage of cancer. If you already have a treatment plan and an appropriate surgical procedure has been identified, then the surgeon will provide you with a detailed explanation of the procedure. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions regarding the risks and benefits of the procedure. Family members are encouraged to be present and take notes for you. As caregivers, they will also understand the support that you will need after surgery. Once you are comfortable in moving forward with the surgery, you will be asked to sign a legal consent form for the procedure.
Before the surgery, you will probably have to undergo routine tests, such as a blood test, urine test, X-rays or other imaging tests. These tests will help your doctor assess your surgical needs, such as your blood type in case you need a transfusion.