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Surgery for cancer


If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you and your doctor may have decided that you need a surgical procedure. Surgery is an effective method to get rid of some cancers. Today, advances in surgery mean that surgery is more precise, safer and more successful than ever before.

Your cancer surgeon (surgical oncologist) is an important member of your team. At Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, our surgeons are skilled in all types of surgery, from routine biopsy procedures to intricate surgeries. We work with you to find the solution that has the highest chance of destroying the cancer while maintaining your quality of life.

Why Choose Cancer Surgery at Vanderbilt

  • Knowledge and experience in surgery

    Our surgeons have extensive training and experience in surgical oncology – performing surgery for patients with cancer. This training is beyond general surgical training and specifically focuses on the unique needs of patients with cancer. In addition, our surgical oncologists specialize in one or two types of cancer, rather than all types of cancer surgery. This dedicated focus gives our surgical team the ability to perform complex, rare operations with excellent results. Research has shown that when surgeons perform more of a specific surgery, it leads to better results for the patient.

  • Expertise in minimally invasive procedures

    These procedures – including laparoscopic surgery, endoscopic surgery and robot-assisted surgery – typically use smaller incisions and offer more precision. This approach results in a more accurate surgery and an easier, more comfortable recovery. We will discuss with you whether a minimally invasive procedure is the right approach for you.

  • Skilled clinicians

    We have cared for thousands of patients at our center. Our breadth and depth of knowledge means we can work with you to determine your best surgical option. We perform intricate procedures while taking steps to help you maintain a high quality of life after surgery. We always have your health and long-term well-being in mind when we recommend a treatment.

  • Surgery for every cancer type

    Some cancer surgeries are more routine – for example, removing a small tumor that hasn’t spread. Some, such as parathyroid tumor removal, can be more complex. No matter what brings you to our center, we know it is not routine for you. We apply the same rigor, precision and thoroughness to every surgery we perform. Our cancer surgeons have expertise in performing surgery for all types of cancer. 

  • Team approach

    “It takes a village” applies to surgery for cancer. Our surgeons consult with specialists from many departments to ensure a safe, precise procedure for you. This “village” of cancer experts ensures that you get the comprehensive care you need.

Anesthesia and Pain Management

Your comfort is one of our top priorities. We will discuss your specific anesthesia and pain management plan before your procedure. After the surgery, we will make sure you are comfortable during your recovery.

Advanced Technology

We will discuss your surgical options with you so you can make an informed decision about your care. We are constantly working to improve surgical techniques so we can offer you a procedure that’s as safe, effective and precise as possible. One of our goals when determining a surgical approach is for you to be able to maintain your function as much as possible, so you can life a full, active life after the surgery.

Innovative surgical techniques we use include:

  • Laparoscopic surgery: This type of minimally invasive procedure uses small incisions and miniature instruments, instead of a large incision used in traditional surgery. A camera enables your surgeon to see a detailed view of the surgical area in real time, so we can perform the most precise procedure possible. Generally, a laparoscopic procedure results in a shorter, easier recovery for you.
  • Robotic surgery: A robot-assisted surgery is a type of laparoscopic surgery. Your surgeon performs the surgery using a robotic surgical system. The surgeon controls the robot, which has greater dexterity than a human hand and can access hard-to-reach places. The robotic system is also beneficial when performing surgery on an area next to delicate nerves and tissue (such as prostate surgery), because it allows the surgeon to remove the tumor without damaging healthy tissue.

After Surgery for Cancer

Cancer affects all aspects of your life, and it affects you even after treatments are completed. We offer robust support services – including a survivorship program and an integrative care center – to help you during treatment and in your life thereafter.