What happens before the surgery?

Before your operation

Before your operation you will have some tests to prepare you for surgery. These tests are usually done a few days or weeks beforehand at a pre-assessment clinic. A member of the surgical team and a specialist nurse will discuss the operation with you. You will also be visited by the doctor who will give you your anaesthetic (the anaesthetist). You’ll usually be admitted to hospital the morning of your operation.

You will be given special elastic stockings (TED stockings) to wear during and after the operation to prevent blood clots forming in your legs. Make sure that you talk to your nurse or doctor about any questions or concerns that you have about the operation.

If you smoke, try to give up or cut down before your operation. This will help reduce your risk of chest problems, such as a chest infection, and will help your wound to heal after the operation. Your GP can give you more advice.

Enhanced Recovery Programmes (ERP)

Most hospitals follow an enhanced recovery programme, which can help reduce complications following surgery and speed up your recovery. The programme involves careful planning before your operation. This makes sure you are properly prepared and any arrangements that are needed for you to go home are already in place. You will be encouraged to:

  • have high-protein and high-calorie supplements before and after your surgery
  • get as fit as possible before your operation
  • limit the amount of alcohol you drink
  • stop or cut down smoking.

You will be given information about what to expect after your surgery and when you can expect to go home.

After your operation you’ll be encouraged to start moving around as soon as possible, sometimes on the day of the operation.

The surgeon will try not to use any tubes or drains unless absolutely needed. Any catheters and fluids through a vein will be removed soon after surgery. You’ll also be allowed to eat and drink soon after surgery. After you’ve gone home you’ll be regularly reviewed to make sure that you’re recovering well. You can ask your doctor whether you will be suitable for this type of recovery programme. Not all hospitals use ERP for surgery and it’s not suitable for everyone.

Back to Surgery explained

Who might I meet?

A team of specialists will plan your surgery. This will include a surgeon who specialises in your type of cancer.

What happens after surgery?

You’ll be monitored very closely after your operation. You will be very tired so it’s important to rest and look after yourself.