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Surgery and Cancer

Since the 19th century surgery was the primary (and often only) treatment for cancer. By the late 20th century it was becoming clear that radical surgery could often be replaced by more limited surgery combined with radiation or chemoradiation.

Initially with breast cancer and later anal, gynecologic cancer, head and neck, prostate, small cell lung cancer, sarcoma, and esophagus cancer.

More recently highly targeted radiation (called radiosurgery) can be used to ablate tumors as effectively as conventional surgery with less toxicity, such techniques as Gamma Knife and Cyberknife.