Question: My understanding is that surgery is the closest thing to “curing” cancer. Is this true?

doctor speaking with female patient who is stressed and upset

I think surgery is the closest thing we have to achieving a cure in our conventional playbook. Many people look at surgery as the holy grail of therapies since we all want to “get the cancer out” of our bodies as if it was this foreign invader. While this is a natural “knee-jerk” reaction surgery is also not a perfect therapy. A surgical procedure with general anaesthetic suppresses the immune system even for a few weeks after and it does nothing to change the reasons the cancer started in the first place.1 Recently, some evidence is showing that surgery to remove cancer can actually spread cancer cells to other areas of the body.2 Also removing the primary tumour may also increase the growth of smaller secondary tumours. The primary tumour actually suppresses the growth of any other tumours in the body since it wants to keep all the nutrients and fuel for itself. Removing that primary tumour also removes the brakes on the other tumours increasing growth. So clearly, surgery is far from a perfect solution but still is the best option to buy time in the hopes the person can change the reasons that caused the cancer in the first place.

When is comes to cancer cure is a very difficult and dangerous word. Even though every fund raising event likes to use the word “cure” as a doctor you never make any promises for treatment outcomes. Cancer is very unpredictable and needs to be taken seriously and respected. What we do know is that we all have cancer cells in our body. Healthy immune and detoxification systems prevent them from growing out of control. I think we can definitely reduce the risk of cancer cells forming and support the body’s ability to keep cancer cells in check.

If a person already has a cancer diagnosis and the tumour growth ‘’run away train” has started I think the best hope is to return to a point where their body regains control and is keeping the cancer cells in check again. This is a definite possibility but almost impossible without a whole body approach. The plan has to include some changes to address diet, stress levels, sleep, waste elimination, emotions and spirituality. It’s very difficult to predict which person will be able to regain control because every person and every cancer is different but I can say the people that accept their cancer journey and embrace the changes they have to make in their lifestyle have the most success. Using our signature Integrative Cancer Care Program at pureBalance Wellness Centre our goal is to help people return to health in every aspect of their life. We strongly believe in addressing the body, mind and spirit as part of every treatment plan, which is essential to maximize the odds for each cancer patient to live a long and fulfilling life.


  1. Ogawa K, Hirai M, Katsube T, Murayama M, Hamaguchi K, Shimakawa T, Naritake Y, Hosokawa T, Kajiwara T. Suppression of cellular immunity by surgical stress. Surgery. 2000 Mar;127(3):329-36.
  2. Neeman E, Ben-Eliyahu S. Surgery and stress promote cancer metastasis: new outlooks on perioperative mediating mechanisms and immune involvement. Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Mar;30 Suppl:S32-40.

Dr. Paul Hrkal, ND

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