Surgery - Surgical Oncology

Treating cancer with surgery is known as “surgical oncology”. Some types of cancer can be treated with surgery. This involves cutting away malignant tissue. Your doctor may recommend surgery for a number of reasons:

  • confirming a diagnosis
  • removing a tumour
  • staging (judging the size and extent of the cancer)
  • reconstructing a part of the body
  • palliative surgery to relieve symptoms.

Surgery may happen before or after other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.  Different cancers may respond to different types of treatment and the treatment plan for a patient will be specific to that individual.

Eight cancer centres have been designated to provide surgery and multidisciplinary care for a variety of common cancers e.g. breast and prostate cancers and less common cancers (e.g. brain, pancreas, oesophageal, gynaecological and lung cancer surgery).  Timely access to high quality multidisciplinary diagnosis and treatment planning is provided through this integrated national approach.  In general, patients are referred for care to the designated Cancer Centre closest to their home.

The NCCP is working to ensure that designated Cancer Centres for individual tumour types have appropriate case volumes, expertise and a concentration of multi-disciplinary specialist skills to ensure optimal outcomes for patients. While surgery for a number of cancer specialities has been centralised, other components of cancer care will continue to be provided in a wider number of acute hospitals e.g. diagnostics (x-rays, CT scans, blood tests) chemotherapy and palliative care.

The NCCP has established Symptomatic Breast Clinics and Rapid Access Lung and Prostate clinics in each of the eight cancer centres. Patients with suspected lung, prostate and breast cancers are referred by their GP to be assessed at these clinics.

 Last updated May 17th 2016