Surgery for CUP
Surgery removes cancer from the body. It is mostly used if cancer is found at an early stage. If CUP has already spread to a number of places in the body, surgery may not be the best treatment. If surgery is used, it may remove only some of the cancer. Surgery is often followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy to kill or shrink any cancer cells left in the body.
If the cancer is found only in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm or groin, it may be possible to remove all of it with an operation. This is called a lymph node dissection or lymphadenectomy. Sometimes surgery can help with symptoms – for example, to relieve pain caused by the tumour pressing on a nerve or organ.
Side effects of surgery
After surgery, you may have some side effects. These will depend on the type of operation you have. Your surgeon will talk to you about the risks and complications of your procedure. These may include infection, bleeding and blood clots. You may experience pain after surgery, but this is often temporary. Talk to your doctor or nurse about pain relief.
If lymph nodes have been removed, you may develop lymphoedema. This is swelling caused by a build-up of lymph fluid in part of the body, usually in an arm or leg. For more details, speak to your nurse, visit the Australasian Lymphology Association (ALA), see our general information about Lymphoedema or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
Podcast: Treatment Options for Advanced Cancer
Prof Chris Karapetis, Network Clinical Director (Cancer Services), Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, Head, Department of Medical Oncology, and Director, Clinical Research in Medical Oncology, Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University, SA; Dr Amey Aurangabadkar, Radiologist, Illawarra Radiology Group, NSW; Clare Brophy, Consumer; Prof Katherine Clark, Clinical Director of Palliative Care, NSLHD Supportive and Palliative Care Network, Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Prof Wendy Cooper, Senior Staff Specialist, Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology, NSW Health Pathology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW; A/Prof Richard Gallagher, Head and Neck Surgeon, Director of Cancer Services and Head and Neck Cancer Services, St Vincent’s Health Network, NSW; Dr Chloe Georgiou, Oncology Research Fellow, Australian Rare Cancer Portal, and Oncology Trials Fellow, Bendigo Health Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Susan Harden, Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Justin Hargreaves, Medical Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Bendigo Health Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Laura Kirsten, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, NSW; Prof Linda Mileshkin, Medical Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA.
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