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More complications, but higher survival rate, after cancer surgery

Dr. Anthony Nichols (centre) of Western University in London. Ont., performs robotic-assisted surgery on a patient with throat cancer in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-London Health Sciences Centre

There are more complications among cancer patients who undergo surgery but fewer deaths, indicates a study published in the online scientific journal British Medical Journal Open.

Complications include blood clots, pressure sores, infections and respiratory problems.

Three researchers from l’Universite de Montreal contributed to the international project, which looked at 2.5 million patients aged over 18 who underwent oncological surgery in the U.S. between 1999 and 2009.

The surgery included complete or partial removal of the intestine, bladder, esophagus, stomach, uterus, lung, pancreas or prostate.

Researchers found an “alarming” increase in complications after surgery but patients were more likely to survive because doctors have learned to recognize and treat the problems quickly.

Researchers said efforts must now be increased to prevent the complications.