Cancer pediatric surgery consists of removing tumors, either benign or malignant. In the specific case of child patients, tumors have distinctive presentation, with specific histological features, that determine therapy.
This is one of the three most important procedures to fight various forms of the illness, along with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, and may even fully cure it.
The pediatric surgical oncologist is the one responsible for these procedures, along with a multidisciplinary team. The professional may also have a specialization on the specific body area related to the tumor location.
Types of pediatric cancer surgery
Pediatric cancer surgeries may be performers in open, laparoscopic or robotically assisted laparoscopic mode. The technique of choice depends on extension, location, implication of vital structures, aside from other biological aspects of the tumor and clinical aspects of the patient.
In several cases biopsy – surgical removal of a tumor sample for laboratory analysis – is the only way to determine whether human tissue is cancerous or not, aside from pinpointing type, stage and other characteristics when pediatric cancer is confirmed.
The procedure performed to determine the stage of an illness is denominated pediatric staging surgery. Aside from harvesting and analyzing tumor tissue (biopsy), the area of the tumor is also studied. It’s a key procedure regarding its influence in patient treatment and life.
Curative pediatric cancer surgery consists of complete tumor removal, and it’s usually performed when the tumor is localized. If full removal is possible, the procedure is executed aiming for immediate cure, but it can also be associated with other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Partial surgical pediatric cancer treatment aims to remove part of the tumor. Usually it’s a procedure executed when a full removal poses too much risk for other organs, however, still allowing a partial tumor removal.
The surgeon removes as much cancerous tissue as possible, preserving the patient’s organs, and the remaining treatment is done with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or other techniques. It can be done on ovarian cancer and some lymphomas, for example.
This is a type of pediatric cancer surgery that aims to relieve cancer symptoms and issues caused by its advance. It can be performed to relieve symptoms that result in discomfort or even disability.
Support surgery is performed so pediatric cancer patients can have access to other therapies more comfortably. An example is the addition of a catheter for chemotherapy, making the procedure easier.
Pediatric reconstruction cancer surgery aims to aesthetically recover a body part that underwent other procedures, such as curative or partial surgery. It’s also performed to recover organ or body part function after surgery
Preventive (prophylactic) surgery
Pediatric prophylactic cancer surgery is performed aiming at avoiding tumoral development, and consists of removing high cancer risk tissues even though the patient presents no illness signs. Oftentimes, an entire organ may be removed depending on the patient’s risk of developing cancer.
Possible adverse effects to pediatric cancer surgery
Surgical procedures for pediatric cancer treatment may present some side effects and consequences, depending on location and type of surgery. Most common ones include, among others: hemorrhage, blood clots, adverse drug reactions, pain, damage to neighboring organs or tissues, infections.