Doctor and cancer patient look at data on computer

Can Anesthesia Impact Cancer Surgery Outcomes?

Posted on 03/07/19 by Allied Anesthesia

Many people think of an anesthesiologist’s role as limited to providing comfort during surgery—that our role begins and ends in the operating room. As our patients and their families know, anesthesiologists do much more. At Allied, we specialize in pediatric anesthesia, cardiac anesthesia, and chronic pain management. Other examples of anesthesiologist specialties are neuroanesthesia or anesthesia as apart of obstetrics or emergency care.

One of the most exciting parts of being a doctor, regardless of the specialty, is how the science of medicine is constantly advancing—as we learn more and more about certain diseases and treatments, our ability to help our patients gets better and better. Anesthesiology is no exception.

For example, a recent article published in JAMA Surgery suggests that modifying anesthetic techniques when operating on cancer patients could actually reduce the postoperative incidence of cancer metastasis, and therefore improve long-term survival.

First, some background. In general, regardless of the health of the patient, the experience of surgery can have lasting effects on your physiology. Specifically, surgery can induce stress and inflammatory responses that have a measurable impact on cellular systems and can ultimately compromise a patient’s immune system. These changes don’t just occur during or immediately after the surgery—they can extend well beyond the actual event.

We know that reducing pain and inflammatory responses after surgery helps people heal faster and makes them less prone to infection. Is the same true for anesthesia?

In a recent Anesthesiology editorial, the authors note that clinical evidence suggests that there are three different anesthetic approaches that might reduce the risk of cancer recurrence:

  • Regional anesthesia, including nerve blocks
  • Anesthetic adjuvants to help prevent infection
  • Using propofol as a replacement for anesthesia

All three of these approaches are currently being evaluated, and we’re very much looking forward to the results.

At Allied, we’re committed to helping our patients before, during, and after surgery—so if there are anesthetic management changes we can make to help reduce the risk of recurrence in our patients living with cancer, we’ll be among the first to implement them.


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