Surgical Oncology


About Surgical Oncology

Surgical oncology is a specialized field of medicine that focuses on using surgery to diagnose and treat various cancers. It can also be used at many other points throughout a patient’s cancer journey, including prevention, staging and reconstruction. It’s often combined with other treatment options to maximize effectiveness. Patients should consult their Mercy doctor to determine if they’re ideal candidates for surgical treatment.

From traditional to minimally invasive, Mercy offers the most advanced surgical methods. Our highly skilled surgeons are part of a multispecialty care team that treats your body, mind and spirit. We’re focused on doing everything within our power to restore your quality of life to what it was before your diagnosis. 

Mercy’s highly-skilled, fellowship-trained surgeons will take the time to answer all of your questions and develop a personalized care plan with you. We also use the latest surgical advances in technology including robotic, CyberKnife® and Gamma Knife®.


Our system of multispecialty care brings cancer specialists together to determine the best course of treatment and, in some cases, remove your tumor and restore health and healing simultaneously. Mercy also offers pain management for cancer patients and will help you create a pain management plan with therapies to help you live a quality life.


If you’re nervous about cancer treatment, you’re not alone. But take comfort in knowing Mercy is by your side. We’ll provide the support and encouragement you need to get through surgery, recovery and beyond.

Surgery is often used to treat or cure cancer. But it can also be used to diagnose, stage and prevent cancer. Some people need more than one kind of surgery. The following procedures are a few of the options that may be available to you:

Preventive or Prophylactic Surgery

This happens when a surgeon proactively removes tissue that’s likely to become cancerous. For example, some women who are considered very high risk for breast cancer choose to have their breasts surgically removed. This is called a preventive mastectomy.

Diagnostic Surgery

Biopsies are minimally invasive surgeries that remove a sample of tissue from the body to test. A Mercy doctor will then test the tissue, determine if it’s cancerous and provide a diagnosis. Other diagnostic surgeries include procedures such as removing lymph nodes.

Staging Surgery

This occurs when your Mercy doctor determines how much cancer is in your body and how far it has spread. Your doctor will look at areas near your cancer, including your lymph nodes and other organs. Knowing the stage of your cancer is critical for planning appropriate treatments.

Curative Surgery

This occurs with the full removal of a cancerous tumor and is most effective when cancer is confined to a single part of the body.

Supportive Surgery

This type of surgery supports other cancer treatments. For example, you may need a device placed under your skin so it’s easier for your body to receive chemotherapy. This can also minimize side effects.

Debulking Surgery

This type of surgery removes the majority of cancerous tumors. This may be an option if your tumor is close to vital organs. It may also help other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, work more effectively.

Reconstructive Surgery

This type of surgery rebuilds the part of the body that was removed. Many women with breast cancer choose to have breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy. Additionally, some head and neck cancer patients need surgery to rebuild part of their jaw or tongue after receiving treatment

Palliative Surgery

If cancer is not treatable, palliative surgery may be used to reduce bodily pain or other problems caused by your tumor. 

The type of cancer surgery you’ll need will depend on several factors. These include the location and size of your tumor, and whether it has spread to other parts of your body. Some cancer patients may need conventional open surgery. This is what most of us think of when we picture surgery. It refers to a surgeon making one or more cuts directly into your body. Today, there are many other surgical techniques used to treat cancer. Most are less invasive, causing less pain, scarring and other side effects. Mercy is proud to offer its patients the following options for surgical oncology:


Cryosurgery uses extremely cold temperatures to kill cancer cells.

Laser Surgery

Laser surgery uses beams of light energy to remove, shrink or destroy tumors.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Minimally invasive surgery uses small incisions with special tools for procedures. Examples of minimally-invasive surgeries are laparoscopic, endoscopic and thoracoscopic surgery.

Mohs Surgery

Mohs surgery is a skin cancer treatment that shaves off thin layers of skin until cancer cells are removed.

Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation uses an electric current to deliver heat to a small area of nerve tissue to reduce pain.

Robotic Surgery

Robotic surgery uses robotic “wrists” that can rotate 360 degrees and move in very tiny increments.

Stereotactic Surgery

Stereotactic surgery is a form of radiation therapy that treats tumors without any surgical incision.

All individuals with cancer are unique. Duration and recovery time from cancer surgery depends on the type of procedure performed. Your Mercy cancer care team will work together to make sure you understand exactly what to expect and all possible outcomes.

Surgical oncology physically removes cancerous tumors from the body fully or partially, depending on which stage your cancer is in. It’s primarily used on cancers located in a specific area that hasn’t spread to other parts of the body, also known as metastasis. When used at the right time, it can be one of the most effective ways to treat cancers in the body. 

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