- Laser surgery
- How does surgery help to diagnose cancer?
- How is surgery used to treat cancer?
- Some common terms for surgical treatments
- Surgery for rehabilitation
- About anaesthetics
- Finding out more about your treatment
- What happens when you are admitted into hospital?
- What to expect after a major operation
- Returning home
Speak to a qualified cancer nurse
Call us on 13 11 20
Avg. connection time: 25 secs
Some common terms for surgical treatments
The ending -ectomy describes any surgery during which tissue is cut away and removed from the body. For example:
Mastectomy is the term for the complete removal of breast tissue.
Hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus.
Laryngectomy is the term for the removal of the larynx or voice box.
The ending -ostomy describes surgery that creates an artificial opening in the body. For example:
Colostomy describes an operation during which one end of the large bowel is removed. The other end is connected to an opening that is created on the surface of the abdomen that is called a stoma.
When the larynx is removed, food and fluid entering the throat can enter the lungs. To make breathing safe the surgeon moves the windpipe to the front, near the base of the neck and creates an artificial opening through it called a tracheostomy.
Listed below are some common terms used to describe how much tissue has been removed:
Conservative or partial surgery removes the cancer whilst sparing most of the surrounding tissue. For example, during a partial mastectomy the surgeon aims to remove the entire tumour while preserving as much of the breast as possible.
Total: the removal of the entire organ or all the tissue in a particular part of the body. A total prostatectomy indicates the removal of the entire prostate gland.
Sub-total indicates part of an organ is spared. During a sub-total hysterectomy the uterus is removed but the cervix is left in place.
Radical is sometimes used to describe surgery that is more extensive, reaching out widely to surrounding tissues and in certain cases, surrounding organs as well. For example, during radical neck surgery following a laryngectomy the surgeon may remove the thyroid gland, the lymph glands in the neck, as well as extra neck tissue.
An amputation indicates the removal of a limb or part of a limb. Amputations may be performed in extreme cases for bone cancers in the arm or leg if other standard treatments are not recommended.
Limb sparing surgery may be a surgical option: the affected part of the bone is removed and replaced with a specially designed piece of metal or a bone graft from another part of the body.
If your surgeon uses terms that are unfamiliar ask them to explain their meaning more clearly. It is important that you understand exactly what is involved in a particular procedure. If you are still unclear about what is to take place during your surgery after your initial visit with your surgeon, do not hesitate to make another time to discuss it further prior to your procedure.