Surgery is the main treatment for many types of cancer, and it can also be a diagnostic tool.
During a biopsy, the surgeon may remove a portion of tissue and examine it under a microscope to determine the presence of cancer and in many cases to determine the stage of the cancer (how advanced it is).
When cancer is present, surgery may be performed to remove the tumor and some surrounding tissue. Sometimes, the whole organ where the cancer is found will be removed.
In cases when cancer has spread to the lymph nodes (small, bean-shaped organs where immune cells are made), one or more of those lymph nodes will also be removed.
When cancer is very advanced, surgery may not cure the cancer, but it will remove as much of the cancer as possible to relieve symptoms, improve quality of life, and help patients live longer.
Cancer types that may be treated with surgery include: