This guide will help you get ready for your robotic-assisted or laparoscopic hysterectomy at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK). It will also 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.Back to top
About Your Surgery
A hysterectomy is a surgery that removes the uterus. You may be having a hysterectomy because you have uterine, cervical, or ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, heavy vaginal bleeding, or pelvic pain. Your healthcare provider will explain why you’re having the surgery.
About your uterus
Your uterus is located in the lower abdomen (belly) between your bladder and rectum. The lower narrow end of your uterus is called your cervix (see Figure 1). Your ovaries and fallopian tubes are attached to your uterus.
After your hysterectomy, you won’t be able to have children naturally. Menstruation (getting your period) will also stop. A hysterectomy does not cause menopause unless your ovaries are removed. If you would like to have biological children in the future, ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a fertility specialist.
Robotic-assisted and laparoscopic hysterectomy
You’ll have either a robotic-assisted or a laparoscopic hysterectomy. Both types will allow your surgeon to perform a precise and less invasive procedure than open surgery.
In both types of hysterectomies, your surgeon will make several small incisions (surgical cuts) on your abdomen. A laparoscope, (a tube-like instrument with a camera) will be placed into your abdomen. The tool is connected to a video camera and television that allows your surgeon to see the inside of your abdomen. Gas (carbon dioxide) will be pumped into your abdomen to create space, which gives your surgeon more room to perform the surgery. Tiny tools will also be inserted into the incisions on your abdomen.
In a laparoscopic hysterectomy, your surgeon sees the image on a monitor and can remove tissue with the instruments. In a robotic-assisted hysterectomy, your surgeon uses a robot as a tool to do the surgery. Your surgeon sits at a console with a 3-dimensional view of the surgical site. They do the surgery from there, using a robot that they control.
In both approaches, your surgeon will remove your uterus and cervix through your vagina, if possible. If your uterus or cervix can’t be removed through your vagina, your surgeon will make one of your incisions larger, and remove the organs from there. Your incisions will be closed with sutures (stitches).
Your surgeon may also perform one or both of the procedures listed below. If so, this is done at the same time as your hysterectomy.
Depending on your surgery, one or both of your ovaries and fallopian tubes may be removed. This is called a salpingo-oophorectomy.
If both ovaries are removed, you’ll go into menopause, if you have not already. If you have already gone through menopause, you should not notice any changes. If you have not started menopause, you may experience common symptoms, including night sweats, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness. Speak with your healthcare provider about ways to manage these symptoms.
Sentinel lymph node mapping and lymph node dissection
Lymph nodes are small, bean-like structures that are found throughout your body. They make and store the cells that help fight infections. Sentinel lymph nodes are the lymph nodes that are most likely to be affected if you have cancer and it has spread.
Your surgeon may do sentinel lymph node mapping and remove some of your lymph nodes, which is called a lymph node dissection. You’ll get anesthesia (medication to make you sleep) before these procedures.
For sentinel lymph node mapping, your surgeon will inject a small amount of dye in the area where the cancer may be. Your surgeon will discuss with you the type of dye they’ll use. This dye travels to the sentinel nodes and turns them blue or green. Once the sentinel node(s) are located, your surgeon will make a small incision. They’ll remove the sentinel node(s) (the nodes that have turned blue or green) and the nodes will be examined to see if they contain cancer cells.Back to top
Before Your Surgery
The information in this section will help you get ready for your surgery. Read through this section when your surgery is scheduled and refer to it as your surgery date gets closer. It has important information about what you need to do before your surgery.
Write down your questions and be sure to ask your healthcare provider.
Getting ready for your surgery
You and your healthcare team will work together to get ready for your surgery. 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®), dabigatran (Pradaxa®), apixaban (Eliquis®), and rivaroxaban (Xarelto®). There are others, so be sure your healthcare provider knows all the medications you’re taking, including patches and creams.
- 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 have had a problem with anesthesia (medication to make you sleep) in the past.
- I am allergic to certain medication(s) or materials, including latex.
- I am not willing to receive a blood transfusion.
- I drink alcohol.
- I smoke.
- I use recreational drugs.
About drinking alcohol
The amount of alcohol you drink can affect you during and after your surgery. It’s important to talk with your healthcare providers about how much alcohol you drink. This will help us plan your care.
- If you stop drinking alcohol suddenly, it can cause seizures, delirium, and death. If we know you’re at risk for these complications, we can prescribe medications to help keep them from happening.
- If you drink alcohol regularly, you may be at risk for other complications during and after your surgery. These include bleeding, infections, heart problems, and a longer hospital stay.
Here are things you can do before your surgery to keep from having problems:
- Be honest with your healthcare providers about how much alcohol you drink.
- Try to stop drinking alcohol once your surgery is planned. If you develop a headache, nausea (feeling like you’re going to throw up), increased anxiety, or can’t sleep after you stop drinking, tell your healthcare provider right away. These are early signs of alcohol withdrawal and can be treated.
- Tell your healthcare provider if you can’t stop drinking.
- Ask your healthcare provider questions about drinking and surgery. As always, all of your medical information will be kept confidential.
If you smoke, you can have breathing problems when you have surgery. Stopping even for a few days before surgery can help. If you smoke, your healthcare provider will refer you to our Tobacco Treatment Program. You can also reach the program by calling 212-610-0507.
About sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a common breathing disorder that causes you to stop breathing for short periods of time while sleeping. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, your 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 device (such as a CPAP device) for sleep apnea, bring it with you the day of your surgery.
Within 30 days of your surgery
Presurgical Testing (PST)
Before your surgery, you’ll have an appointment for 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’ll meet with a nurse practitioner (NP) who works closely with anesthesiology staff (specialized healthcare providers who will give you anesthesia during your surgery). Your NP will review your medical and surgical history with you. You may have tests, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check your heart rhythm, a chest x-ray, blood tests, and any other tests needed to plan your care. Your NP may also recommend that you see other healthcare providers.
Your NP will talk with you about which medications you should take the morning of your surgery.
It’s very helpful to bring the following things to your PST appointment:
- A list of all the medications you’re taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, patches, and creams.
- Results of any tests done outside of MSK, such as a cardiac stress test, echocardiogram, or carotid doppler study.
- The name(s) and telephone number(s) of your healthcare provider(s).
Complete a Health Care Proxy form
If you haven’t already completed a Health Care Proxy form, we recommend you complete one now. If you have completed one already, or if you have any other advance directives, bring them to your next appointment.
A health care proxy is a legal document that identifies the person who will speak for you if you can’t communicate for yourself. The person you identify is called your health care agent.
Talk with your healthcare provider if you’re interested in completing a health care proxy. You can also read the resources Advance Care Planning and How to Be a Health Care Agent for information about health care proxies, other advance directives, and being a health care agent.
Identify your caregiver
Your caregiver plays an important role in your care. Before your surgery, you and your caregiver will learn about your surgery from your healthcare providers. After your surgery, your caregiver will take you home when you’re discharged from the hospital. They’ll also help you care for yourself at home.
Do breathing and coughing exercises
Practice taking deep breaths and coughing before your surgery. Your healthcare provider will give you 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. Aerobic exercise is any exercise that makes your heart beat faster, such as walking, swimming, or biking. If it’s cold outside, use stairs in your home or go to a mall or shopping center. Exercising will help your body get into its best condition for your surgery and make your recovery faster and easier.
Follow a healthy diet
Follow a well-balanced, healthy diet before your surgery. If you need help with your diet, talk with your healthcare provider about meeting with a clinical dietitian nutritionist.
Buy a 4% Chlorhexidine Gluconate (CHG) Solution Antiseptic Skin Cleanser (such as Hibiclens®), if Needed
Your nurse will tell you if you need to wash with a 4% CHG solution antiseptic skin cleanser before your surgery.
4% CHG solution is a skin cleanser that kills germs for 24 hours after you use it. Showering with it before your surgery will help lower your risk of infection after surgery. You can buy a 4% CHG solution antiseptic skin cleanser at your local pharmacy without a prescription.
7 days before your surgery
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for taking aspirin
If you take aspirin or a medication that contains aspirin, you may need to change your dose or stop taking it 7 days before your surgery. Aspirin can cause bleeding.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Don’t stop taking aspirin unless they tell you to. For more information, read the resource Common Medications Containing Aspirin, Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), or Vitamin E.
Stop taking vitamin E, multivitamins, herbal remedies, and other dietary supplements
Stop taking vitamin E, multivitamins, herbal remedies, and other dietary supplements 7 days before your surgery. These things can cause bleeding. For more information, read the resource Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment.
2 days before your surgery
Stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Stop taking NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) and naproxen (Aleve®), 2 days before your surgery. These medications can cause bleeding. For more information, read the resource Common Medications Containing Aspirin, Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), or Vitamin E.
1 day before your surgery
Note the time of your surgery
A staff member from the Admitting Office will call you after 2:00 pm the day before your surgery. If your surgery is scheduled for a Monday, they’ll call you on the Friday before. If you don’t get a call by 7:00 pm, call 212-639-5014.
The staff member will tell you what time to arrive at the hospital for your surgery. They’ll also remind you where to go.
Begin bowel preparation, if needed
You may also need to do a bowel preparation in order to empty your bowels before surgery. If you need to do this, your nurse will give you instructions.
Shower with a 4% CHG solution antiseptic skin cleanser (such as Hibiclens), if needed
The night before your surgery, shower using a 4% CHG solution antiseptic skin cleanser.
- Use your normal shampoo to wash your hair. Rinse your head well.
- Use your normal soap to wash your face and genital area. Rinse your body well with warm water.
- Open the 4% CHG solution bottle. Pour some into your hand or a clean washcloth.
- Move away from the shower stream. Rub the 4% CHG solution gently over your body from your neck to your feet. Don’t put it on your face or genital area.
- Move back into the shower stream to rinse off the 4% CHG solution. Use warm water.
- Dry yourself off with a clean towel after your shower.
- Don’t put on any lotion, cream, deodorant, makeup, powder, perfume, or cologne after your shower.
Instructions for eating before your surgery
Do not eat anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes hard candy and gum.
The Morning of Your Surgery
Instructions for drinking before your surgery
You can drink a total of 12 ounces of water between midnight and 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. Do not drink anything else.
Do not drink anything starting 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. This includes water.
Take your medications
If your doctor or NP 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.
Shower with a 4% CHG solution antiseptic skin cleanser (such as Hibiclens), if needed
If your healthcare provider told you to, shower with a 4% CHG solution antiseptic skin cleanser before you leave for the hospital. Use it the same way you did the night before.
Don’t put on any lotion, cream, deodorant, makeup, powder, perfume, or cologne after your shower.
Things to remember
- Don’t put on any lotions, creams, deodorants, makeup, powders, or perfumes.
- 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’ll need to remove your eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, and religious articles.
- Wear something comfortable and loose-fitting.
- If you wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead.
- If you’re menstruating (have your monthly period), use a sanitary pad, not a tampon. You’ll get disposable underwear, as well as a pad if needed.
What to bring
- 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 this item for you when you go into surgery.
- Your incentive spirometer, if you have one.
- Your breathing machine for sleep apnea (such as your CPAP), if you have one.
- A case for your personal items, such as eyeglasses, hearing aid(s), dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, and religious articles such as a rosary, if you have it.
- 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.
Once you’re in the hospital
You’ll be asked to state and spell your name and date of birth many times. This is for your safety. People 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’ll get a hospital gown, robe, and nonskid socks to wear.
Meet with your nurse
You’ll 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 you’ll receive.
- Answer any questions you may have about your anesthesia.
Prepare for surgery
You’ll walk into the operating room or 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. You may also have a blood pressure cuff and EKG pads to monitor you during surgery.
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 (medication to make you sleep) during your surgery.
Once you are fully asleep, a breathing tube will be placed through your mouth and into your windpipe to help you breathe. You may also have a urinary (Foley) catheter placed to drain urine from your bladder.
Once your surgery is finished, your incisions will be closed Steri-Strips™ (thin pieces of tape) or Dermabond® (surgical glue) and covered with a dry dressing. Your breathing tube is usually taken out while you are still in the operating room.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’ll learn how to safely recover from your surgery.
Write down your questions and be sure to ask your healthcare provider.
What to expect
When you wake up after your surgery, you’ll be in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) or your recovery room.
A nurse will be monitoring your body temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen levels.
You may have a urinary catheter in your bladder to help monitor the amount of urine you are making. It should come out before you go home. You’ll also have compression boots on your lower legs to help your circulation.
Your pain medication will be given through an IV line or in tablet form. If you are having pain, tell your nurse.
Your nurse will tell you how to recover from your surgery. Below are examples of ways you can help yourself recover safely.
- You’ll be encouraged to walk with the help of your nurse or physical therapist. We’ll give you medication to relieve pain. Walking helps reduce the risk for blood clots and pneumonia. It also helps to stimulate your bowels so they begin working again.
- Use your incentive spirometer. This will help your lungs expand, which prevents pneumonia. For more information, read How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer.
Commonly asked questions
What is the Recovery Tracker?
We want to know how you’re feeling after you leave the hospital. To help us continue caring for you, we’ll send a group of questions to your MyMSK account every day for 10 days after you leave the hospital. These questions are known as your Recovery Tracker.
Fill out your Recovery Tracker every day before midnight (12:00 am). It only takes 2 to 3 minutes to complete. Your answers to these questions will help us understand how you’re feeling and what you need.
Based on your answers, we may reach out to you or ask you to call your surgeon’s office to give us more information. You can always contact your surgeon’s office if you have any questions. For more information, read the resource About Your Recovery Tracker .
Will I have pain after surgery?
Yes, you’ll have some pain after your surgery, especially in the first few days. Your healthcare provider will ask you about your pain often. You’ll be given medication to manage your pain as needed. If your pain is not relieved, please tell your healthcare provider. It is important to control your pain so you can cough, breathe deeply, use your incentive spirometer, and get out of bed and walk.
Will I be able to eat?
Yes, you’ll be able to eat a regular diet or eat as tolerated. You should start with foods that are soft and easy to digest such as apple sauce and chicken noodle soup. Eat small meals frequently, and then advance to regular foods.
If you experience bloating, gas, or cramps, limit high-fiber foods, including whole grain breads and cereal, nuts, seeds, salads, fresh fruit, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.
Will I have pain when I am home?
The length of time each person has pain or discomfort varies. You may still have some pain when you go home and will probably be taking pain medication. Follow the guidelines below.
- Take your medications as directed and as needed.
- Call your healthcare provider if the medication prescribed for you doesn’t relieve your pain.
- Don’t drive or drink alcohol while you’re taking prescription pain medication.
- As your incision heals, you’ll 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. Don’t take more acetaminophen than the amount directed on the bottle or as instructed by your healthcare provider.
- Pain medication should help you as you resume your normal activities. Take enough medication to do your exercises comfortably. Pain medication is most effective 30 to 45 minutes after taking it.
- Keep track of when you take your pain medication. Taking it when your pain first begins is more effective than waiting for the pain to get worse.
Pain medication may cause constipation (having fewer bowel movements than what is normal for you).
How can I prevent constipation?
Talk with your healthcare provider about how to prevent and manage constipation. You can also follow the guidelines below.
- Go to the bathroom at the same time every day. Your body will get used to going at that time. But, if you feel like you need to go, don’t put it off.
- Try to use the bathroom 5 to 15 minutes after meals. After breakfast is a good time to go. The reflexes in your colon are strongest at this time.
- Exercise, if you can. Walking is an excellent form of exercise.
- Drink 8 (8-ounce) glasses (2 liters) of liquids daily, if you can.
- Choose liquids such as water, juices (such as prune juice), soups, and ice cream shakes.
- Avoid liquids with caffeine (such as coffee and soda). Caffeine can pull fluid out of your body.
- Slowly increase the fiber in your diet to 25 to 35 grams per day. If you have an ostomy or have had recent bowel surgery, check with your healthcare provider before making any changes in your diet. Foods high in fiber include:
- Whole-grain cereals and breads
- Unpeeled fruits and vegetables
- Mixed green salads
- Apricots, figs, and raisins
- Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available to treat constipation. Check with your healthcare provider before taking any medications for constipation, especially if you have an ostomy or have had bowel surgery. Follow the instructions on the label or from your healthcare provider. Examples of over-the-counter medications for constipation include:
- Docusate sodium (Colace®). This is a stool softener (medication that makes your bowel movements softer) that causes few side effects. You can use it to help prevent constipation. Don’t take it with mineral oil.
- Polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®). This is a laxative (medication that causes bowel movements) that causes few side effects. Take it with 8 ounces (1 cup) of a liquid. Only take it if you’re already constipated.
- Senna (Senokot®). This is a stimulant laxative, which can cause cramping. It’s best to take it at bedtime. Only take it if you’re already constipated.
- Call your healthcare provider if you haven’t had a bowel movement in 2 days.
Can I shower?
Yes, you should shower 24 hours after your surgery. Be sure to shower every day.
Taking a warm shower is relaxing and can help decrease muscle aches. Use soap when you shower and gently wash your incision. Pat the areas dry with a towel after showering, and leave your incision uncovered (unless there is drainage). Call your healthcare provider if you see any redness or drainage from your incision.
Don’t take tub baths until you discuss it with your healthcare provider at the first appointment after your surgery.
How do I care for my incisions?
You’ll have several small incisions on your abdomen. The incisions are closed with Steri-Strips or Dermabond. You may also have square white dressings on your incisions (Primapore®). You can remove these in the shower 24 hours after your surgery. You should clean your incisions with soap and water.
If you go home with Steri-Strips on your incision, they’ll loosen and may fall off by themselves. If they haven’t fallen off within 10 days, you can remove them.
If you go home with Dermabond over your sutures (stitches), it will also loosen and peel off.
What are the most common symptoms after a hysterectomy?
It’s common for you to have some vaginal spotting or light bleeding. You should monitor this with a pad or a panty liner. If you have having heavy bleeding (bleeding through a pad or liner every 1 to 2 hours), call your healthcare provider right away.
It’s also common to have some discomfort after surgery from the air that was pumped into your abdomen during surgery. To help with this, walk, drink plenty of liquids and make sure to take the stool softeners you received.
When is it safe for me to drive?
You may resume driving 2 weeks after surgery, as long as you aren’t taking pain medication that may make you drowsy.
When can I resume sexual activity?
Do not place anything in your vagina or have vaginal intercourse for 8 weeks after your surgery. Some people will need to wait longer than 8 weeks, so speak with your healthcare provider before resuming sexual intercourse.
Will I be able to travel?
Yes, you can travel. If you are traveling by plane within a few weeks after your surgery, make sure you get up and walk every hour. Be sure to stretch your legs, drink plenty of liquids, and keep your feet elevated when possible.
Will I need any supplies?
Most people do not need any supplies after the surgery. In the rare case that you do need supplies, such as tubes or drains, your nurse will order them for you.
When can I return to work?
The time it takes to return to work depends on the type of work you do, the type of surgery you had, and how fast your body heals. Most people can return to work about 2 to 4 weeks after the surgery.
What exercises can I do?
Exercise will help you gain strength and feel better. Walking and stair climbing are excellent forms of exercise. Gradually increase the distance you walk. Climb stairs slowly, resting or stopping as needed. Ask your healthcare provider before starting more strenuous exercises.
When can I lift heavy objects?
Most people should not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) for at least 4 weeks after surgery. Speak with your healthcare provider about when you can do heavy lifting.
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 weepy, sad, worried, nervous, irritable, and angry at one time or another. You may find that you can’t 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 patients and their families. Whether you’re in the hospital or at home, the nurses, doctors, and social workers are here to help you and your family and friends handle the emotional aspects of your illness.
When is my first appointment after surgery?
Your first appointment after surgery will be 2 to 4 weeks after surgery. Your nurse will give you instructions on how to make this appointment, including the phone number to call.
What if I have other questions?
If you have any questions or concerns, please talk with your healthcare provider. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, call 212-639-2000 and ask for the person on call for your healthcare provider.
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider if you:
- Have a fever of 101 °F (38.3 °C) or higher
- Have pain that doesn’t get better with pain medication
- Have redness, drainage, or swelling from your incisions
- Have swelling or tenderness in your calves or thighs
- Cough up blood
- Have any shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Do not have any bowel movement for 3 days or longer
- Have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Have any questions or concerns
This section contains a list of support services that may help you get ready for your surgery and recover safely.
Write down your questions and be sure to ask your healthcare provider.
MSK support services
Call if you have questions about your hospital admission, including requesting a private room.
Call if you have 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 arranging your care.
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 that counseling helps them. We provide counseling for individuals, couples, families, and groups, as well as medications to help if you feel anxious or depressed. To make an appointment, ask your healthcare provider for a referral or call the number above.
Food Pantry Program
The food pantry program provides food to people in need during their cancer treatment. For more information, talk with your healthcare provider or call the number above.
Integrative Medicine Service
Integrative Medicine Service offers many services to complement (go along with) traditional medical care, including music therapy, mind/body therapies, dance and movement therapy, yoga, and touch therapy.
You can visit our library website or speak with the library reference staff to find more information about your specific cancer type. You can also visit LibGuides on MSK’s library website at libguides.mskcc.org.
Patient and Caregiver Education
Visit the Patient and Caregiver Education website to search our virtual library. There you can find written educational resources, videos, and online programs.
Patient and Caregiver Peer Support Program
You may find it comforting to speak with someone who has been through a treatment similar to yours. You can talk with a former MSK patient or caregiver through our Patient and Caregiver Peer Support Program. These conversations are confidential. They may take place in person or over the phone.
Call if you have questions about preauthorization with your insurance company. This is also called preapproval.
Patient Representative Office
Call if you have questions about the Health Care Proxy form or if you have concerns about your care.
Perioperative Nurse Liaison
Call if you have questions about MSK releasing any information while you’re having surgery.
Private Duty Nursing Office
You 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.
Sexual Health Programs
Cancer and cancer treatments can have an impact on your sexual health. MSK’s Sexual Health Programs can help you take action and address sexual health issues before, during, or after your treatment.
- Our Female Sexual Medicine and Women’s Health Program helps women who are dealing with cancer-related sexual health challenges, including premature menopause and fertility issues. For more information, or to make an appointment, call 646-888-5076.
- Our Male Sexual and Reproductive Medicine Program helps men who are dealing with cancer-related sexual health challenges, including erectile dysfunction. For more information, or to make an appointment, call 646-888-6024.
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 help 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.
MSK’s Virtual Programs offer online education and support for patients and caregivers, even when you can’t come to MSK in person. Through live, interactive sessions, you can learn about your diagnosis, what to expect during treatment, and how to prepare for the various stages of your cancer care. Sessions are confidential, free, and led by expert clinical staff. If you’re interested in joining a Virtual Program, visit our website at www.mskcc.org/vp for more information.
External support services
In New York City, the MTA offers a shared ride, door-to-door service for people with disabilities who can’t take the public bus or subway.
American Cancer Society (ACS)
Offers a variety of information and services, including Hope Lodge, a free place for patients and caregivers to stay during cancer treatment.
Cancer and Careers
A resource for education, tools, and events for employees with cancer.
275 Seventh Avenue (Between West 25th & 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.
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’s part of the Good Days formulary.
LGBT Cancer Project
Provides support and advocacy for the LGBT community, including online support groups and a database of LGBT-friendly clinical trials.
Provides reproductive information and support to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments have risks associated with infertility.
Look Good Feel Better Program
This program offers workshops to learn things you can do to help you feel better about your appearance. For more information or to sign up for a workshop, call the number above or visit the program’s website.
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.
This section contains the educational resources that were referred to throughout this guide. These resources will help you get ready for your surgery and recover safely after surgery.
Write down your questions and be sure to ask your healthcare provider.
- Common Medications Containing Aspirin, Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), or Vitamin E
- Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment
- How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer
- About Your Recovery Tracker
For information about lymphedema, you can also read the New York State Department of Health’s resource Understanding Lymphedema.Back to top