10 Cancer Myths


Surgery for Cancer

Cancer Myth 5: Treating cancer with surgery causes it to spread throughout the body.

Respondents Who Agreed: 41 percent

Origin of Myth: This myth may have started many years ago when most patients already had very advanced cancers by the time they sought medical care. Doctors may have operated to find the cause of a patient's illness and found an advanced cancer that could not be treated successfully. When the patient died a short time later, observers thought the surgery caused the cells to spread and killed the patient.

Reality: Specialists in cancer surgery know how to safely take biopsy samples and to remove tumors without causing spread of the cancer. In many cases, surgery is an essential part of the cancer treatment plan.

For a few types of cancer, surgeons take extra precautions to prevent any chance of the cancer spreading. For example, in testicular cancer the entire testicle containing the cancer is removed, so no cancer cells are dislodged. Doctors who perform surgery for cancer are specialists and are highly trained in the intricacies of cancer and anatomy.

Learning about treatment options such as surgery is very helpful and can be reassuring to patients going through the cancer experience.