Planning and preparation

Although each person’s situation is different, here is a general overview of what may happen before surgery. Procedures vary between hospitals and according to whether you have surgery as an inpatient or outpatient.

Learn more about:

Preoperative assessment

Your doctor will ask you to complete a questionnaire about your medical history, including any allergies and any medicines you take.

Depending on the surgery you are having and your general health, you may have to attend a pre-admission clinic a few weeks before the surgery. This is so your medical team can check your fitness for surgery and recommend any tests or other things you need to do to prepare for surgery and ensure the best outcomes.

Tell the doctor if you are taking over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs or other supplements, as these could affect the surgery and your recovery. For example, they may increase the risk of bleeding during surgery or affect the way pain medicines work.

The health professionals you see at the clinic will vary depending on the type of cancer and surgery, but they could include:

  • the surgeon or a resident medical officer or registrar
  • the anaesthetist or another member of the anaesthesia team, such as a specialist nurse or registrar
  • a physiotherapist to show you exercises to do before surgery to improve the chances of a smooth recovery
  • other specialists depending on your medical history and the type of surgery, e.g. you may see a heart specialist.

You may also have blood tests (including compatibility testing in case you need a blood transfusion), urine tests, heart monitoring tests (ECG) and a chest x-ray, and imaging tests such as CT, MRI or PET scans. You probably won’t need to have all of these tests and scans.

You will be told whether you will have surgery as an inpatient or outpatient, what to take to hospital and other useful information (see Preparing for surgery). Your legs may be measured for stockings to help reduce the chance of developing a blood clot in your veins (deep vein thrombosis or DVT). You might wear these during surgery and for a short time afterwards.

You will be given referrals to any support services you need after surgery, such as a dietitian or social worker.

If you are having minor surgery, you may not need to attend a pre-admission clinic. Your doctor will discuss the surgery and how to prepare at one of your usual appointments, and you will usually receive admission instructions from the hospital.

Quitting smoking

If you are a smoker, you will be encouraged to stop smoking before surgery. Continuing to smoke can increase the risk of complications and delay your healing and recovery time. Quitting smoking can be difficult – for support, talk to your doctor, call the Quitline on 13 7848 or visit

Enhanced recovery after surgery programs

Many hospitals in Australia have programs in place to reduce the stress of surgery and improve your recovery. These are called enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) or fast track surgical (FTS) programs.

These programs encourage you to play an active part in your care through pre-admission counselling and education about pain, diet and exercise, so you know what to expect each day after the surgery.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on surgery.

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit:


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit:

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit:

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in April 2019
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Ask a health professional or someone who’s been there, or find a support group or forum

Online Community
Check out this supportive online community for people affected by cancer

Cancer information

Making cancer treatment decisions
Decision-making steps, consent and second opinions

Deciding on specialist care
How to find and choose a surgeon, oncologist or other specialist