Understanding the risks
Almost all medical procedures have risks. Factors to consider when weighing up the risks and benefits of surgery include:
- how long the operation will take
- the type of anaesthetic you will have
- the expected outcome
- what will happen if you don’t have the surgery
- your age and general health.
Surgery may cause permanent physical changes such as scarring or loss of a body part. It may also affect your fertility (your ability to conceive a child). If you are interested in having children in the future, talk to your surgeon about your options before the operation.
For more on this, see Fertility and cancer.
Overall, you and your surgeon should feel that the expected benefits are greater than the possible risks. Sometimes there are few options other than surgery. If you are unsure, ask for a second opinion from another specialist.
Prof Andrew Spillane, Surgical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute of Australia, and Professor of Surgical Oncology, The University of Sydney Northern Clinical School, NSW; Lynne Hendrick, Consumer; Judy Holland, Physiotherapist, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Kara Hutchinson, Cancer Nurse Coordinator, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, VIC; A/Prof Declan Murphy, Urologist and Director of Genitourinary Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Prof Stephan Schug, Director of Pain Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, and Chair of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine, The University of Western Australia Medical School, WA; Dr Emma Secomb, Specialist Surgeon, Hinterland Surgical Centre, QLD. We would like to thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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