Surgery may be done as a treatment for cancer by removing small and larger tumours, as well as preventing further spreading of the cancer cells by removing the lymph nodes. Depending on the stage and type of cancer as well as the location of the tumour, surgery may be to remove the tumour or to provide palliative care by reducing the painful symptoms associated with cancer.

Why would a lymph node biopsy be done for cancer?

A lymph node biopsy is done when the lymph nodes are swollen, indicating infection in the body and the source is unknown. It is also used to diagnose cancer and see whether the cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes and thru this to other parts of the body.

There are three types of lymph node biopsies:

  • Fine needle aspiration – this biopsy is done under anaesthesia by inserting a needle into a lymph node to extract fluid and cells for testing.
  • Core needle biopsy – this biopsy is done with local anaesthesia where a hollow needle is used to take a sample of tissue for testing.
  • Open biopsy – this is done under anaesthesia and involves a part of the lymph node being cut out after which your surgeon will close the incision with absorbable stitches or surgical staples.


These biopsies may be done in conjunction with other cancer surgery. Which of the three biopsies will be done depends on your specific case, the stage and severity of cancer.

What cancer surgery does Dr Muthambi perform?

Dr Muthambi is experienced in removing tumours from various areas in the body as both palliative reasons and as treatment for cancer. He has the expertise to remove tumours and perform:

  • Oesophagus (food pipe) cancer surgery – including oesophagectomy, endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) and stent placement.
  • Surgery for Gastric (Stomach) cancer – including endoscopic resection as well as partial and total gastrectomies.
  • Surgery for Liver cancer surgery – mainly for palliative reasons as partial hepatectomy surgery is usually not able to remove all cancer cells.
  • Surgery for colon cancer – he is highly experienced in both total and partial colectomy surgery as well as polypectomy surgery. If necessary, a temporary or permanent colostomy may be done, or alternatively, an Ileal Pouch Anal Anastomosis (J-Pouch) may be done.
  • Surgery for rectal cancer – may include a Local excision, an abdominoperineal resection (APR), a sphincter-sparing surgery or a low anterior resection depending on the severity of cancer, the size of the tumour and how much it has spread.
  • Breast cancer surgery such as a lumpectomy & mastectomy is also performed by Dr Muthambi. Depending on the surgery, reconstructive surgery may be done afterwards with the help of a plastic surgeon.
  • Surgery for thyroid cancer – depending on the size of the tumour a lobectomy or a thyroidectomy can be done, for which hormone replacement medications will be needed to supplement the hormones that were once produced by the thyroid gland.

What will happen after the procedure?

After surgery, you will be given instructions on how to care for your wound. You will be given pain medication and antibiotics to prevent infection. Recovery is generally quicker when the surgery is done laparoscopically or endoscopically. It is important to avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activity while you recover. Recovery should take about 4-6 weeks. It is essential to contact Dr Muthambi if you experience any of the following symptoms as emergency care may be needed:

  • High temperature or chills
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling around the incisions
  • Bleeding from the wound
  • Extreme pain

Surgery is often done to reduce the pressure that the tumour may be causing and reduce the painful symptoms the cancer is causing. It is also done to prevent further spreading of cancer. Depending on whether or not the cancer has spread, your oncologist may recommend surgery before further chemotherapy or radiation therapy.