Programs and Treatments at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center
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Surgical Oncology
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Surgical Oncology

Cancer treatments are developed on a case-by-case basis by assessing your individual needs. For some, surgery may be the best choice for evaluation and treatment. Surgical procedures can be used to obtain tissue samples to confirm diagnosis, identify a specific cancer and/or determine the extent of the disease.

Surgery is also used to remove malignant and non-malignant tumors; treat solid tumors like those found in the breast, colon or lung; correct problems that create discomfort or disability; and assist with other types of treatment like the placements of IV access devices.

The Department of Surgery has the resources and capabilities to treat the entire spectrum of adult neoplastic diseases. Surgical oncology focuses on the management of breast and gastrointestinal tract tumors including esophageal, gastric, small bowel, colorectal, pancreatic and hepato-biliary cancers. Click here to learn more about our team.

The Department of Surgery offers several different surgical techniques and services including:

Education remains a priority through the academic encouragement and mentoring of the surgical medical students to participate in a monthly Surgical Oncology Conference and GI research. As members of the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG), they continue to develop the Surgical Oncology Program through their participation in clinical trials.

The surgeons participate as speakers at support groups, health fairs and community outreach screening programs. The strength of the Surgical Oncology Program is the focus on treating the whole person, not just the tumor.

Laser Surgery
Pennsylvania Hospital surgeons have been using laser surgery for more than 20 years and are pioneers in the use of cryosurgery (the use of liquid nitrogen spray or a very cold probe to freeze and kill abnormal cells) and electrosurgery (the use of high-frequency electrical current to destroy cells). We are one of the few facilities in the Philadelphia region that offers prostate cryosurgery, a minimally invasive procedure that provides an alternative to removing the prostate gland of men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Studies show that laser treatment leads to a better prognosis, a shorter hospital stay and fewer complications such as less pain and blood loss.

Minimally Invasive Surgery
Our doctors are at the forefront of minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical techniques including fine needle aspirations (the use of a very thin needle to withdraw a small amount of tissue from a tumor); stereotactic biopsy (a computer-guided extraction of a tissue sample); and sentinel lymph node sampling (the removal of a single lymph node rather than multiple nodes).

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Pennsylvania Hospital surgeons are skilled in a full range of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures designed to restore a patient's appearance or the function of an organ or body part following the removal of a tumor. Services range from breast reconstruction to facial skeletal surgery. For people whose cancer involves a limb, advances in surgical techniques have made limb-sparing surgery a mainstay.

Surgical Supportive Care
The surgical oncology program and the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospoital provide additional supportive services for the holistic approach to the treatment of cancer. A surgical oncology nurse coordinator acts as a resource for the surgical oncologists and patients by providing access to support groups, nutritional services, educational programs, clinical protocols and research activities. The nurse coordinator works directly with the patients to guide them through treatment.

Videoscopic Techniques
Our surgeons are leaders in videoscopic techniques, including endoscopy and laparoscopy, which rely on the use of small fiberoptic cameras attached to thin, flexible tubes to generate images from inside the body onto a television monitor. We are leaders in researching and testing new minimally invasive surgeries and in offering training in videoscopic techniques to other surgeons nationwide.


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Need an appointment? Request one online 24 hours/day, 7 days/week or call 800-789-PENN (7366) to speak to a referral counselor.

Related Links
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