Can Having Surgery Cause My Cancer to Spread?

The short answer from an oncologist
Can Having Surgery Cause My Cancer to Spread? (short answer)

Q: Can having surgery cause my cancer to spread?

A: It’s a common concern: Cancer will spread if exposed to air during surgery. There are rare times when having a biopsy is a risk for spreading which may be a reason biopsy isn’t offered.

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Some people may feel worse after surgery than they did before surgery, which may cause the belief that their cancer has spread. However, it’s normal to feel worse immediately following surgery. This doesn’t mean that your cancer is spreading.

Also, your surgeon may find more cancer during surgery than was originally expected from the pre-op scans and x-rays. This can happen too, and it also isn’t related to the surgery. The cancer was already there, but hadn’t shown up on the tests.

Remember, if you have any concerns or questions, be sure to discuss with your doctor.

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— Dale Shepard, MD, Hematology and Medical Oncologist

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