Surgery for Castleman Disease

Surgery is often used to obtain a tissue sample to diagnose Castleman disease (CD). A lymph node biopsy (described in “ How is Castleman disease diagnosed?”) is usually a minor procedure, and patients can often go home afterwards.

Surgery also works well to treat localized (unicentric) CD. The type of surgery depends on where the disease is located.

If the affected lymph node or nodes are in a place that is easy to get to, such as in the armpit, then surgery is usually straightforward. In many cases the person may even be able to go home the same day after the surgery.

When the enlarged lymph nodes are in a place that is hard to get to, like deep in the chest or abdomen, surgery is more complex and might require a stay in the hospital for a few days after the operation.

Surgery is also sometimes used in multicentric disease, although in this case it’s used to help treat symptoms rather than to try to cure the disease. For example, the spleen can be removed if it has grown large and is causing symptoms.

Potential side effects of surgery depend on several factors, including the extent of the operation and a person’s health before surgery. Most people will have at least some pain after the operation, but it usually can be controlled with medicines if needed. Other problems can include reactions to anesthesia, damage to nearby organs during the operation, bleeding, blood clots in the legs, and skin infections at the incision sites.

Even though Castleman disease is not a cancer, surgery is often used in much the same way as it is for cancer. You can read more in Understanding Cancer Surgery: A Guide for Patients and Families.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: July 7, 2014 Last Revised: May 23, 2016

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