Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Risks and potential side effects

Risk is a part of any surgery. Though science and medical technology have made surgery a safe and reliable treatment option, there is always the risk of potential problems and side effects. In many cases, however, the positive effects of surgery outweigh the risks. The more you know about surgery for cancer, the more informed your choices will be. Be sure to discuss the following potential complications with your cancer care team prior to undergoing treatment.

Problems during surgery may include:

  • Damage to organs in the body
  • Blood loss
  • Adverse reactions to medication

Problems after surgery may include:

  • Pain or discomfort (a common problem following surgery that can often be relieved with medication and with the help of your cancer care team)
  • Infections
  • Other illnesses, such as pneumonia
  • Blood loss or clots