Palliative surgery is a surgical intervention that focuses on improving a patient’s quality of life or treating the symptoms of an advanced cancer. Additionally, doctors perform palliative surgery to evaluate the extent of a disease and control pain, haemorrhage, or tumour.
Any part of the body
How Is It Performed?
Palliative surgery aims to reduce pain and other symptoms caused by an advanced disease such as cancer. There are several types of surgeries that fall under palliative surgery. We discuss one of the most common palliative surgeries performed called tumour debulking. This is a surgical procedure where most of the malignant tumour is safely removed to allow chemotherapy or radiotherapy to be more effective, therefore improving the quality of a patient’s life.
During the procedure, the patient is under general anaesthesia. According to the size and location of the tumour, the surgeon either uses laparoscopy to make a small incision or takes out as much of the tumour as possible. If the tumour has spread too much, the surgeon may opt for open surgery to gain more access to the tumour. Since the tumour would have progressed to an advanced stage, this procedure aims to leave behind no visible signs of cancer or less than 1 cm lesions.
The doctor decides to perform palliative surgery if non-surgical interventions such as medications have not improved the pain and symptoms of the disease. Before opting for palliative surgery, consult your doctor about the benefits and risks of performing the surgery. Your doctor may ask you to refrain from smoking and taking medications a week before the surgery. Your doctor will also give proper instructions on what to eat or what not to eat. The doctor may ask you to avoid eating any food except water before the surgery on the day of the procedure.
Your stay in the hospital might be for 4 to 7 days after surgery to start recovery and receive chemotherapy or any other medicinal treatment. Once you are released from the hospital, you will have to go to your doctor for checkups every week after surgery. During these follow-ups, your doctor will inspect your surgical site for any signs of infection or bleeding and may ask about your health. Avoid any strenuous physical activity or exercise to avoid putting pressure on stitches and the body for at least 8 to 12 weeks until the doctor permits you.
Like any other surgery, an individual might be at risk of developing the following side effects after palliative surgery.
- Postoperative pain
- Blood clots
- Possible nerve damage
- Slow recovery of the other bodily functions
- Damage to other organs
- Damage to nearby tissues
- Drug reactions
It will take 6 to 8 weeks to recover from palliative surgery and get back to your regular routine. It may take longer depending on the surgery and the healing process. You cannot drive or go back to work for a few weeks after surgery. Once the doctor deems you fit and allows you to resume your daily routine, you may do so. The follow-ups will continue but will reduce to visits every 2 to 3 months or as per the doctor’s instructions. You may experience side effects, such as bleeding, infection, or incontinence after the surgery. Consult your doctor immediately if they persist. For more information on palliative surgery, visit BLK-Max Hospital.
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