Palliative care isn’t just about making you comfortable if you have a life-threatening and incurable disease. Although not a cure, when you are in an advanced stage of cancer, palliative surgery can offer relief by helping you manage your symptoms.

Factors Under Consideration

A surgeon considers several factors before recommending palliative surgical treatment of advanced cancer. Typically, a surgeon will consider the tumor’s location, growth rate and spreadability. Generally, slow-growing tumors with a low growth rate and low metastatic potential offer the best outcomes following surgery.

Your surgeon will make their best recommendation based on your condition. However, you always have the final say before undergoing surgery. During your decision-making process, make sure to thoroughly review the pros and cons of the recommended surgery. Your surgeon will explain the risks associated with the surgery, how the surgical team will mitigate these risks and what you can do to help.

Common post-operative risks include:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Heart attack
  • Bronchopneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Infection

Prior to recommending surgery, your surgeon will consider the stage of cancer when you were first diagnosed, the effectiveness of your previous treatment history, and the usual pattern the disease takes from the time of diagnosis. Additionally, your surgeon will also help you evaluate your current health status and your ability to recover from surgery.

Goals of Palliative Surgery

For many people, improved quality of life is the major goal of cancer treatment. If the standard treatment proves ineffective and a cure is unlikely, then your surgeon may recommend palliative surgery. Successful palliative surgery often reduces pain, bleeding, ulcers caused by cancer and the spread of cancer. As a result, many patients gain a greater life expectancy in addition to an improved quality of life.

Palliative surgery doesn’t mean giving up hope. A palliative care plan focuses on your goals, personal values, beliefs and attitudes. Whether you want to extend your life expectancy or improve your quality of life, palliative surgery can help you feel better so that you can focus on living and fighting.

Managing Your Symptoms Through Surgery

When standard treatment becomes ineffective palliative surgery may be the answer to better symptom management. Palliative surgery may also reduce the amount of time you have to spend in the hospital for cancer treatment and disease-related complications.

If you choose palliative surgery — particularly early-on following your cancer diagnosis — you may have less emotional issues, like depression, during your treatment. Pain causes emotional distress, but less physical pain can help you cope more effectively with your symptoms, other cancer treatments and the unpleasant side effects of cancer treatment. Plus, when you attack cancer earlier, your chances of success improve.

Along with decreasing anxiety and depression, pain relief can help you sleep better and give you more energy as a result. Additionally, pain relief can also help you feel more positive and motivated during your cancer treatment.

Pain Relief

Pain is a common worry of cancer patients, which is why your doctor may recommend surgical intervention when other less-invasive treatments have failed. Alternatively, if you suffer intolerable side effects from cancer treatment, corrective surgery may help you manage your pain. Your surgeon will take into account the location and intensity of your pain, as well as any other symptoms your pain causes.

Unfortunately, surgery may not increase your long-term survival rate. However, by relieving your pain and other symptoms, surgery can help you remain functional and maintain your independence.

Palliative surgery from surgical oncologists in Tennessee often supports treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Combining these treatments help fight cancer more effectively. Surgery may also slow cancer’s growth and prevent or delay additional symptoms.

You can receive both curative and palliative care throughout your cancer treatment. Palliative care, which may include palliative surgery, can begin when you are first diagnosed and continue along with curative treatments you receive. When standard treatments no longer control the symptoms of your cancer, palliative surgery addresses the pain and related discomfort.

Best Candidates for Palliative Surgery

The ideal candidate for palliative surgery has a long life expectancy and a high survival rate. Both you and your surgeon should discuss whether an invasive treatment, such as palliative surgery, is the best choice for managing your symptoms.

Even in the presence of advanced malignancy, surgery may be a practical option for relieving cancer-related symptoms. Every case is unique; therefore, it’s important to consider surgery as a possible palliative measure that can improve your quality of life.

If you have questions about whether palliative surgery may be the right choice for you, contact The Surgical Clinic for more information. Our medical doctors and oncology surgeons can review your case and recommend the best treatment approach for you.

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