About Your Surgery
This guide will help you prepare for your colon resection surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK), and help you understand what to expect during your recovery. Read through this guide at least once before your surgery and use it as a reference in the days leading up to your surgery. Bring this guide with you every time you come to MSK, including the day of your surgery. You and your healthcare team will refer to it throughout your care.
Your digestive system
Understanding how your digestive system works can be helpful as you prepare for and recover from your surgery. Your digestive system is made up of organs that break down food, absorb nutrients, and remove waste from your body. They include your mouth, esophagus (food pipe), stomach, small intestine, colon (large intestine), rectum, and anus (see Figure 1).
After your food has been chewed and swallowed, it moves into your esophagus. This is a long, muscular tube that serves as a passageway for food as it travels from your mouth into your stomach. Once the food enters your stomach, it mixes with stomach acids. These acids begin to digest (break down) the food.
When the food leaves your stomach, it moves into your small intestine. There, it continues to be digested, and many nutrients are absorbed. Anything that isn’t absorbed is called waste.
The waste then moves to your colon, where some water is reabsorbed (taken back) into your body. The remaining waste enters the last portion of the colon, known as the rectum. Your rectum serves as a holding area for these waste products until they’re eliminated through your anus.
Colon resection is a surgery that’s done to treat cancer of the colon. The part of your colon containing the cancer is removed. The healthy ends of your colon are then sewn back together. Your surgeon will explain which part of your colon will be removed (see Figure 2).
A colon resection can be done using different techniques. Your surgeon will talk with you about which options are right for you. Depending on what type of surgery you have, your surgeon will make one or more incisions (surgical cuts) on your belly.
- When one long incision is made on the belly, this is called open surgery. The part of the colon containing the cancer is removed through the incision.
- When several small incisions are made on the belly, this is called minimally invasive surgery. Small surgical instruments and a video camera are inserted into the incisions to remove the part of the colon containing the cancer. Some surgeons use a robotic device to assist with the surgery.
Before Your Surgery
The information in this section will help you prepare for your surgery. Read through this section when your surgery is scheduled and refer to it as your surgery date gets closer. It contains important information about what you need to do before your surgery. Write down any questions you have and be sure to ask your doctor or nurse.
You and your healthcare team will work together to prepare for your surgery.
About drinking alcohol
The amount of alcohol you drink can affect you during and after your surgery. It’s important that you talk with us about your alcohol intake so that we can plan your care.
- Stopping alcohol suddenly can cause seizures, delirium, and death. If we know you’re at risk for these complications, we can prescribe medications to help prevent them.
- If you drink alcohol regularly, you may be at risk for other complications during and after your surgery. These include bleeding, infections, heart problems, greater dependence on nursing care, and longer hospital stay.
Here are things you can do to prevent problems before your surgery:
- Be honest with your healthcare provider about how much alcohol you drink.
- Try to stop drinking alcohol once your surgery is planned. If you develop a headache, nausea, increased anxiety, or can’t sleep after you stop drinking, tell your doctor right away. These are early signs of alcohol withdrawal and can be treated.
- Tell your healthcare provider if you can’t stop drinking.
- Ask us any questions you have about drinking and surgery. As always, all of your treatment information will be kept confidential.
Help us keep you safe during your surgery by telling us if any of the following statements apply to you, even if you aren’t sure.
- I take a blood thinner. Some examples are aspirin, heparin, warfarin (Coumadin®), clopidogrel (Plavix®), enoxaparin (Lovenox®), and tinzaparin (Innohep®). There are others, so be sure your doctor knows all the medications you’re taking.
- I take prescription medications, including patches and creams.
- I take any over-the-counter medications, herbs, vitamins, minerals, or natural or home remedies.
- I have a pacemaker, automatic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (AICD), or other heart device.
- I have sleep apnea.
- I’ve had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
- I’m allergic to certain medication(s) or materials, including latex.
- I’m not willing to receive a blood transfusion.
- I drink alcohol.
- I smoke.
- I use recreational drugs.
People who smoke can have breathing problems when they have surgery. Stopping even for a few days before surgery can help. If you smoke, your nurse will refer you to our Tobacco Treatment Program. You can also reach the program at 212-610-0507.
About sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a common breathing disorder that causes a person to stop breathing for short periods of time while sleeping. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, the airway becomes completely blocked during sleep. OSA can cause serious problems during and after surgery.
Please tell us if you have sleep apnea or if you think you might have it. If you use a breathing machine (such as a CPAP) for sleep apnea, bring it with you the day of your surgery.
Before your surgery, you will have presurgical testing (PST). The date, time, and location of your PST appointment will be printed on the appointment reminder from your surgeon’s office.
You can eat and take your usual medications the day of your PST appointment. During your appointment, you will meet with a nurse practitioner who works closely with anesthesiology staff (doctors and specialized nurses who will be giving you medication to put you to sleep during your surgery). Your nurse practitioner will review your medical and surgical history with you. You will have tests, including an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check your heart rhythm, a chest x-ray, blood tests, and any other tests necessary to plan your care. Your nurse practitioner may also recommend you see other healthcare providers.
Your nurse practitioner will discuss which medications you should take the morning of your surgery. To help you remember, we’ve left space for you to write these medications down in the “Take Your Medications” section of this guide.
Bring the following things with you to your PST appointment:
- A list of all medications you’re taking, including patches and creams.
- Results of any tests done outside of MSK, such as a cardiac stress test, echocardiogram (echo), or
- carotid doppler study.
- The name(s) and telephone number(s) of your doctor(s).
Health care proxy
If you haven’t already completed a Health Care Proxy form, we recommend you complete one now. A health care proxy is a legal document that identifies the person who will speak for you if you’re unable to communicate for yourself. The person you identify is called your health care agent.
If you’re interested in completing a Health Care Proxy form, talk with your nurse. If you have completed one already, or if you have any other advance directive, bring it with you to your next appointment.
Breathing and coughing exercises
Practice taking deep breaths and coughing before your surgery. You will be given an incentive spirometer to help expand your lungs. For more information, read How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer. If you have any questions, ask your nurse or respiratory therapist.
Try to do aerobic exercise every day, such as walking at least 1 mile, swimming, or biking. If it’s cold outside, use stairs in your home or go to a mall or shopping market. Exercising will help your body get into its best condition for your surgery and make your recovery faster and easier.
Eat a healthy diet
Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet before your surgery. If you need help with your diet, talk with your doctor or nurse about meeting with a dietitian.
Stop taking vitamin E
If you take vitamin E, stop taking it 10 days before your surgery, because it can cause bleeding. For more information, read Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).
You will need to purchase the following supplies for your bowel preparation at your local pharmacy. You don’t need a prescription from your doctor.
- 1 (238-gram) bottle of polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®)
- 1 (64-ounce) bottle of a clear liquid (see the clear liquid diet menu in the “Start bowel preparation” section of this guide)
This is also a good time to stock up on clear liquids to drink the day before your surgery. For a list of clear liquids that you can drink, please see the table in the “Start bowel preparation” section of this guide.
Stop taking certain medications
If you take aspirin, ask your surgeon whether you should continue. Aspirin and medications that contain aspirin can cause bleeding. For more information, read Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).
Stop taking herbal remedies and supplements
Stop taking herbal remedies or supplements 7 days before your surgery. If you take a multivitamin, talk with your doctor or nurse about whether you should continue. For more information, read Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment.
Watch a virtual tour
This video will give you an idea of what to expect when you come to MSK’s main hospital on the day of your surgery.
Stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®, Motrin®) and naproxen (e.g., Aleve®). These medications can cause bleeding. For more information, please read Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).
To reduce your risk of infection, avoid shaving or waxing your abdominal area.
Start bowel preparation
You will need to start your bowel preparation 1 day before your surgery. You will also need to follow a clear liquid diet the day before your surgery. Examples of clear liquids are listed in the table below. During your bowel preparation:
- Don’t eat any solid foods.
- Make sure to drink plenty of liquids other than water, black coffee, and tea. Try to drink at least 1 (8-ounce) glass every hour while you’re awake.
|Food/Beverage||Drink||Do Not Drink|
||Any products with any particles of dried food or seasoning|
|Sweets and Desserts||
On the morning before your surgery, mix all 238 grams of MiraLAX with the 64 ounces of clear liquid until the MiraLAX powder dissolves. Once the MiraLAX is dissolved, you can put the mixture in the refrigerator, if you prefer.
The MiraLAX will cause frequent bowel movements, so be sure to be near a bathroom the evening before your surgery or procedure.
At 5:00 pm on the day before your surgery, start drinking the MiraLAX bowel preparation. Drink 1 (8-ounce) glass of the mixture every 15 minutes until the container is empty. When you’re finished drinking the MiraLAX, drink 4 to 6 glasses of clear liquids. You can continue to drink clear liquids until midnight the night before your surgery, but it isn’t required.
Apply zinc oxide ointment (such as Desitin®) to the skin around your anus after every bowel movement. This helps prevent irritation.
At 7:00 pm on the day before your surgery, take your antibiotics as instructed.
At 10:00 pm on the day before your surgery, take your antibiotics as instructed.
Note the time of your surgery
A clerk from the Admitting Office will call you after 2:00 pm the day before your surgery. The clerk will tell you what time you should arrive at the hospital for your surgery. If you’re scheduled for surgery on a Monday, you will be called on the Friday before. If you don’t receive a call by 7:00 pm the evening before your surgery, please call 212-639-5014.
On the day of your surgery, go to the main hospital at 1275 York Avenue between East 67th and East 68th Streets. Take the B elevator to the 6th Floor to the Presurgical Center (PSC).
Shower with Hibiclens®
Your nurse will give you a bottle of Hibiclens skin cleanser before your surgery. Hibiclens is a skin cleanser that kills germs and will reduce your risk of infection. The night before your surgery, shower using Hibiclens.
To use Hibiclens, open the bottle and pour some solution into your hand or a washcloth. Move away from the shower stream to avoid rinsing off the Hibiclens too soon. Rub it gently over your body from your neck to your waist and rinse.
Don’t let the solution get into your eyes, ears, mouth, or genital area. Don’t use any other soap. Dry yourself off with a clean towel after your shower.
Go to bed early and get a full night’s sleep.
Do not eat or drink after midnight.
Shower with Hibiclens
Shower using Hibiclens just before you leave for the hospital. Use the Hibiclens the same way you did the night before. Don’t use any other soap. Don’t put on any lotion, cream, powder, deodorant, makeup, or perfume after your shower.
Take your medications as instructed
If your doctor or nurse practitioner instructed you to take certain medications the morning of your surgery, take only those medications with a small sip of water. Depending on what medications you take and the surgery you’re having, this may be all, some, or none of your usual morning medications.
Two hours before your scheduled arrival time, drink the Clearfast® carbohydrate drink your doctor or nurse gave you.
After you finish the Clearfast, do not eat or drink anything else. This includes water, hard candy, and gum.
Things to remember
- Don’t put on any lotion, cream, deodorant, makeup, powder, or perfume.
- Don’t wear any metal objects. Remove all jewelry, including body piercings. The equipment used during your surgery can cause burns if it touches metal.
- Leave valuables, such as credit cards, jewelry, or your checkbook, at home.
- Before you are taken into the operating room, you will need to remove your eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, and religious articles.
- If you wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead.
What to bring
- A pair of loose-fitting pants (sweat pants are a good choice).
- Sneakers that lace up. You may have some swelling in your feet. Lace-up sneakers can accommodate this swelling.
- Only the money you may need for a newspaper, bus, taxi, or parking.
- Your portable music player, if you choose. However, someone will need to hold it for you when you go into surgery.
- Your breathing machine for sleep apnea (such as your CPAP), if you have one.
- Your incentive spirometer, if you have one.
- If you have a case for your personal items, such as eyeglasses, hearing aid(s), dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, or religious articles, bring it with you.
- Your Health Care Proxy form, if you have completed one.
- This guide. Your healthcare team will use this guide to teach you how to care for yourself after your surgery.
Parking when you arrive
MSK’s parking garage is located on East 66th Street between York and First Avenues. To reach the garage, turn onto East 66th Street from York Avenue. The garage is located about a quarter of a block in from York Avenue, on the right-hand (north) side of the street. There is a pedestrian tunnel that you can walk through that connects the garage to the hospital. If you have questions about prices, call 212-639-2338.
There are also other garages located on East 69th Street between First and Second Avenues, East 67th Street between York and First Avenues, and East 65th Street between First and Second Avenues.
Once you’re in the hospital
You will be asked to state and spell your name and date of birth many times. This is for your safety. Patients with the same or similar names may be having surgery on the same day.
Get dressed for surgery
When it’s time to change for surgery, you will get a hospital gown, robe, and nonskid socks to wear.
Meet with your nurse
You will meet with your nurse before surgery. Tell your nurse the dose of any medications (including patches and creams) you took after midnight and the time you took them.
Meet with your anesthesiologist
Your anesthesiologist will:
- Review your medical history with you.
- Talk with you about your comfort and safety during your surgery.
- Talk with you about the kind of anesthesia (medication to make you sleep) you will receive.
- Answer any questions you may have about your anesthesia.
Prepare for Surgery
Once your nurse has seen you, 1 or 2 visitors can keep you company as you wait for your surgery to begin. When it’s time for your surgery, your visitor(s) will be shown to the waiting area. Your visitors should read Information for Family and Friends for the Day of Surgery.
You will either walk into the operating room or you can be taken in on a stretcher. A member of the operating room team will help you onto the operating bed. Compression boots will be placed on your lower legs. These gently inflate and deflate to help circulation in your legs.
Your anesthesiologist will place an intravenous (IV) line into a vein, usually in your arm or hand. The IV line will be used to give you fluids and anesthesia during your surgery.
Your anesthesiologist may also put an epidural catheter (thin, flexible tube) in your spine (back). This will be used to give you pain medication. The medication is delivered into your epidural space, which is the area just outside your spinal cord. It will give you pain relief with fewer side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and sleepiness. This is similar to what is given to women when they have babies.
Once you’re fully asleep, a breathing tube will be placed through your mouth into your windpipe to help you breathe. You will also have a urinary catheter placed to drain urine from your bladder.Back to top
After Your Surgery
The information in this section will tell you what to expect after your surgery, both during your hospital stay and after you leave the hospital. You will learn how to safely recover from your surgery. Write down any questions you have and be sure to ask your doctor or nurse.
When you wake up after your surgery, you will be in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). You will stay there until you’re awake and your pain is under control. Most people return to their room after a few hours in the PACU, but some will need to stay in the PACU overnight for observation.
You will receive oxygen through a thin tube called a nasal cannula that rests below your nose. A nurse will be monitoring your body temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen levels.
You will have a Foley® catheter in your bladder to monitor the amount of urine you’re making. You will also have compression boots on your lower legs to help your circulation. They will be taken off when you’re able to walk. You will also have 1 or 2 drains in your lower abdomen to drain extra fluid from the area. Most of the time, the drains are removed after a few days. If you will go home with a drain, your nurse will show you how to care for it.
You will be given medications to control your pain and keep you comfortable. There are different ways that these medications can be given.
- Epidural catheter: Some people may get pain medication through an epidural catheter in their spine.
- Nerve block: Some people may get a nerve block before or during surgery. In a nerve block, your doctor injects medication into some of your nerves to reduce pain after surgery.
- Intravenous (IV) medications: Some people may get pain medication straight into a vein through their IV line.
- Oral medications: Some people may get oral pain medications (medication that’s swallowed, such as pills).
You may have one or more of these after your surgery. They’re all effective methods to control your pain, and your doctor will talk with you before choosing the best one(s) for you.
Your visitors can see you briefly in the PACU, usually within 90 minutes after you arrive there. A member of the nursing staff will explain the guidelines to them.
After your stay in the PACU, you will be taken to your hospital room in the inpatient unit. There, your nurse will tell you how to recover from your surgery. Below are examples of ways you can help yourself recover safely.
- It’s important to walk around after surgery. Your nurse will help you get out of bed the day after your surgery. Your activity will be increased until you can walk the halls in the hospital without help. Walking every 2 hours is a good goal. This will help prevent blood clots in your legs and reduce your risk of pneumonia.
- Use your incentive spirometer. This will help your lungs expand, which prevents pneumonia. For more information, read How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer.
Will I have pain after my surgery?
You will have some pain from your incision(s) after your surgery. Your doctor and nurse will ask you about your pain often. You will be given medication to manage your pain as needed. If your pain isn’t relieved, please tell your doctor or nurse. It’s important to control your pain so you can cough, breathe deeply, use your incentive spirometer, and get out of bed and walk.
When you can swallow liquids, you will get your pain medication by mouth. You will be given a prescription for pain medication before you leave the hospital.
How long will I be in the hospital?
Most people are in the hospital for 4 to 6 days after having a colon resection surgery, but this will depend on the exact surgery that is done.
Can I shower?
You will be able to shower in the hospital and after you go home. Do not take tub baths or go swimming until your doctor says it is okay.
Will I have pain when I am home?
The length of time each person has pain or discomfort varies. Some people may have soreness or tightness at their incision, or muscle aches for up to 6 months or longer. This does not mean that something is wrong. Follow the guidelines below to manage your pain.
- Take your medications as directed and as needed. Call your doctor if the medication prescribed for you doesn’t relieve your pain.
- Don’t drive or drink alcohol while you’re taking prescription pain medication.
- Pain medication should help you as you resume your normal activities. Take enough medication to make sure you can gradually increase your activities. Pain medication is most effective 30 to 45 minutes after taking it.
- Keep track of when you take your pain medication. It will not be as effective if you allow your pain to increase. Taking it when your pain first begins is more effective than waiting for the pain to get worse.
As your incision(s) heals, you will have less pain and need less pain medication. A mild pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®) will relieve aches and discomfort. However, large quantities of acetaminophen may be harmful to your liver. Do not take more acetaminophen than the amount directed on the bottle or as instructed by your doctor or nurse.
How do I care for my incision(s)?
The location and size of your incision(s) will depend on the type of surgery you had. It is normal to have numbness of the skin below the incision(s) because some of the nerves were cut, even if you had a nerve-sparing procedure. This sensation will lessen over time.
Your incision(s) will be closed with stitches, staples, or surgical glue. By the time you are ready to leave the hospital, your surgical incision will have begun to heal. You and your caregiver should look at your incision with your nurse before you leave the hospital so you know what it looks like. If you have sutures or staples, they are usually removed the morning you leave the hospital. This is done in your hospital bed and isn’t painful. If you go home with your staples or sutures in place, you will need to come back to the clinic to have them removed.
Tape strips called Steri-StripsTM will be placed across your incision(s) to make sure it stays closed. After about 14 days, these will loosen and you can remove them. Your incision(s) will stay closed.
Change your bandages at least once a day and more often if they become wet with drainage. If any liquid is draining from your incision, you should write down the amount and color. Call your doctor’s office and speak with the nurse about any drainage from your incision. When there is no longer any drainage coming from your incision(s), they can be left uncovered.
You should check your incision(s) every day for any signs of infection until your doctor tells you it has healed. Call your doctor if you develop any of the following signs of a wound infection:
- Increased pain
- Warmth at the incision site
- Foul-smelling or pus-like drainage from your incision
- A temperature of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
To prevent infection, please don’t let anyone touch your incision(s). Clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before you touch your incision(s).
When you take a shower, gently wash your incision(s) with a fragrance-free, liquid soap. If you have Steri-Strips or surgical glue on your incision(s), don’t scrub it or use a washcloth on it. This could irritate your incision(s) and prevent it from healing. While it’s safe to take a shower, don’t let your incision(s) be wet for too long. When you’re finished with your shower, gently pat your incision(s) with a clean towel. Allow it to air dry completely before getting dressed.
How can I prevent constipation?
You may experience constipation (trouble passing stool) after your surgery. This is a common side effect of pain medication. Gentle activity, such as walking, and drinking more water can help reduce this side effect.
To avoid constipation, take a stool softener such as docusate sodium (Colace®) 3 times a day and 2 tablets of senna (a laxative) at bedtime. Continue taking the stool softener and laxative until you’re no longer taking pain medication. Drink plenty of liquids. If you feel boated, avoid foods that can cause gas, such as beans, broccoli, onions, cabbage, and cauliflower.
How will my bowel function change after surgery?
When a part of your colon is removed, the part that is left adapts to this change. Your remaining colon will begin to adapt shortly after your surgery. During this time, you may have the following symptoms:
- Changes in your bowel habits (i.e., frequent bowel movements)
If you have soreness around your anus from frequent bowel movements:
- Soak in warm water 2 to 3 times a day.
- Apply zinc oxide ointment (such as Desitin) to the skin around your anus. This helps prevent irritation.
- Don’t use harsh toilet tissue. You can use a nonalcohol wipe instead, such as a baby wipe.
- Take medication, if your doctor prescribes it.
Will I need to change my diet after my surgery?
For the first few days after your surgery, you will be given clear liquids. Then, your diet will progress to solid food.
Parts of the colon can be removed without having a major impact on your nutritional health. However, while your remaining colon is adjusting, your body may not absorb nutrients, liquids, vitamins, and minerals as well as before your surgery. Therefore, it’s important that you drink plenty of liquids and make sure you’re getting enough nutrients while you’re recovering from your surgery.
Your doctor will give you dietary guidelines to follow after your surgery. Your dietitian will go over these guidelines with you before you leave the hospital.
When can I resume my normal activities?
Doing your normal activities is an important part of regaining your strength. However, follow the guidelines below:
- Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms), strain, or do strenuous exercise for at least 6 weeks after your surgery.
- Walking is a good way to increase your endurance. You can climb stairs, but try to limit how often you do this for the first week you’re home. Don’t go out by yourself until you’re sure of what you can do.
- Rest as needed, but if you cannot sleep at night, it may be a sign that you’re resting too much during the day.
When can I resume sexual activity?
Your surgeon will tell you when you can resume sexual activity.
When is it safe for me to drive?
Don’t drive until your surgeon tells you it’s okay. This will be some time after your first follow-up appointment after your surgery. If you’re still taking your prescribed pain medication, your surgeon may want you to wait longer before driving. The pain medication can slow your reflexes and responses, making it unsafe to drive. Also, braking requires use of the abdominal muscles, so driving may increase your discomfort.
When will I get my test results?
After your surgery, the tumor and the tissue around it will be sent to a pathologist. Your test results will be ready about 5 business days after your surgery. Your surgeon will discuss the results of the tests with you and recommend whether you need any additional treatments.
What type of follow-up care will I receive after I leave the hospital?
Your surgeon will want to see you 1 to 3 weeks after you leave the hospital. If you don’t have an appointment before you leave the hospital, call your surgeon’s office to schedule it.
At this visit, your surgeon will check your incision(s) and overall condition. At other follow-up visits, you may have blood tests, x-rays, or colonoscopies.
It’s important that you go to all of your follow-up visits after your surgery. You can call your doctor or nurse if you have any questions in between these appointments.
If you need to have more treatment after your surgery, it can be done at MSK or at a facility near your home. Your surgeon will plan your care with the doctors in charge of these treatments.
How can I cope with my feelings?
After surgery for a serious illness, you may have new and upsetting feelings. Many people say they felt sad, worried, nervous, irritable, or angry at one time or another. You may find that you cannot control some of these feelings. If this happens, it’s a good idea to seek emotional support.
The first step in coping is to talk about how you feel. Family and friends can help. Your nurse, doctor, and social worker can reassure, support, and guide you. It’s always a good idea to let these professionals know how you, your family, and your friends are feeling emotionally. Many resources are available to you. Whether you’re in the hospital or at home, your nurses, doctors, and social workers are here to help you and your family and friends handle the emotional aspects of your illness.
- A temperature of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
- Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting
- Any of the following signs of infection in your incision:
- Increased pain
- Warmth at the incision site
- Foul-smelling or pus-like drainage
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain at your incision that isn’t relieved by pain medication
- Bleeding from your rectum
- Any questions or concerns
This section contains information about resources that you may find helpful before, during, and after your surgery. You may also wish to add other information, which you can list on page 1 of this guide. Write down any questions you have and be sure to ask your doctor or nurse..
Call with questions about anesthesia.
Blood Donor Room
Call for more information if you’re interested in donating blood or platelets.
Bobst International Center
MSK welcomes patients from around the world. If you’re an international patient, call for help.
At MSK, our chaplains are available to listen, help support family members, pray, contact community clergy or faith groups, or simply be a comforting companion and a spiritual presence. Anyone can request spiritual support, regardless of formal religious affiliation. The interfaith chapel is located near the main lobby of Memorial Hospital, and is open 24 hours a day. If you have an emergency, please call the hospital operator and ask for the chaplain on call.
Many people find counseling helpful. We provide counseling for individuals, couples, families, and groups, as well as medications to help if you feel anxious or depressed.
Integrative Medicine Service
Integrative Medicine Service offers patients many services to complement traditional medical care, including music therapy, mind/body therapies, dance and movement therapy, yoga, and touch therapy.
Patient-to-Patient Support Program
You may find it comforting to speak with a cancer survivor or caregiver who has been through a similar treatment. Through our Patient-to-Patient Support Program, we are able to offer you a chance to speak with former patients and caregivers.
Call Patient Billing with any questions about preauthorization from your insurance company. This is also called preapproval.
Patient Representative Office
Call if you have any questions about the Health Care Proxy form or if you have any concerns about your care.
Perioperative Nurse Liaison
Call if you have any questions about MSK releasing any information while you are having surgery.
Private Nursing Options
Patients may request private nurses or companions. Call for more information.
Resources for Life After Cancer (RLAC) Program
At MSK, care doesn’t end after active treatment. The RLAC Program is for patients and their families who have finished treatment. This program has many services, including seminars, workshops, support groups, counseling on life after treatment, and help with insurance and employment issues.
Social workers help patients, family, and friends deal with issues that are common for cancer patients. They provide individual counseling and support groups throughout the course of treatment, and can help you communicate with children and other family members. Our social workers can also refer you to community agencies and programs, as well as financial resources if you’re eligible.
Tobacco Treatment Program
If you want to quit smoking MSK has specialists who can help. Call for more information.
The following are resources outside of MSK that you may find helpful:
In New York City, the MTA offers a shared ride, door-to-door service for people with disabilities who are unable to take the public bus or subway.
Cancer and Careers
A comprehensive resource for education, tools, and events for employees with cancer.
275 Seventh Avenue (between West 25th & West 26th Streets) New York, NY 10001
Provides counseling, support groups, educational workshops, publications, and financial assistance.
Cancer Support Community
Provides support and education to people affected by cancer.
Provides reproductive information and support to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments have risks associated with infertility.
A place where men, women, and children living with cancer find social and emotional support through networking, workshops, lectures, and social activities.
Offers financial assistance to pay for copayments during treatment. Patients must have medical insurance, meet the income criteria, and be prescribed medication that is part of the Good Days formulary.
LGBT Cancer Project
Provides support and advocacy for the LGBT community, including a online support groups and a database of
LGBT friendly clinical trials.
National Cancer Institute
National Cancer Legal Services Network
Free cancer legal advocacy program.
National LGBT Cancer Network
Provides education, training, and advocacy for LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk.
Lists Patient Assistance Programs for brand and generic name medications.
Provides prescription benefits to eligible employees and retirees of public sector employers in New York State.
Patient Advocate Foundation
Provides access to care, financial assistance, insurance assistance, job retention assistance, and access to the national underinsured resource directory.
The Ostomy Association
Wound Ostomy Continence Organization
Go to this website to find a WOC nurse in your area. The website also has information on resources, suppliers of ostomy products, and support groups.
- Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment
- Information for Family and Friends for the Day of Surgery
- How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer