What is surgery used for in cancer management?

Surgery may be used as a treatment on its own or may be utilised in conjunction with other cancer treatments. Surgery can be used to remove all or part of a cancerous growth (resection), to investigate a diagnosis of cancer (biopsy), reduce risk of further cancer damage (prophylactic) and to manage symptoms.

Common Side Effects

Each surgery will have different considerations and side effects depending on the location, type and extent of surgery. A common side effect post-operative is pain which will be managed by the medical team who may prescribe analgesia. It is important to mobilise early following surgery, within the medical post-surgical restrictions, to prevent further cardio-respiratory complications and muscular atrophy.

Exercise Recommendations

Post operative exercise recommendations depend heavily on the specific location, type and extent of surgery performed. It is important to remain within the post-operative instructions provided by the respective surgeon – these should be clearly documented in the medical file.

These instructions may differ between surgeons and health services and may include:

  • lifting restrictions
  • range of motion restrictions
  • sit/stand/walk duration restrictions
  • weight bearing restrictions
  • prescription and donning of orthotics/braces for mobilising
  • prescription of specific exercises

Take care to confirm such restrictions before mobilising and exercising with patients. If in doubt, confirm such instructions with the surgeon or GP before proceeding.