How do I know if the surgery worked for me?
After a tumor is cut out, the tissue is examined in the lab. This helps doctors learn about the extent of the disease. Surgeons try to achieve “negative margins” in the sample. This means that all of the cancer cells are only seen in middle, so it is likely that the entire tumor was successfully removed. A sample with “positive margins” has visible cancer cells dispersed all the way to the borders of the cut tissue. This means that there is a good chance that some cancer cells are still living in the patient. So, the surgery did not cut deeply or widely enough to cut all of the cancer out.
Sometimes, cancer can recur even if it seems like it was all removed after the first surgery. One of the reasons this can happen is from intraperitoneal free cancer cells (IFCCs). IFCCs are individual cancer cells which can flake off of a tumour and move into the peritoneum.