Going into hospital for cancer surgery

You will probably go into hospital on the day of your operation. Taking time to prepare for going into hospital might help to make it less stressful. 

Before you go into hospital

It’s worth sorting out a few things before you go into hospital. These might include:

  • taking time off work
  • care for children or other loved ones
  • care for your pets
  • care for your house
  • cancelling your milk or newspapers

What to take with you

Take in:

  • nightgowns or pyjamas
  • underwear
  • dressing gown
  • slippers
  • contact lenses, solution, glasses and a case
  • wash bag with soap, a flannel or sponge, toothbrush and toothpaste etc
  • sanitary wear or tampons
  • towel
  • small amount of money
  • medicines you normally take
  • magazines, books, playing cards
  • headphones and music to listen to
  • a tablet or smartphone for web browsing, entertainment and phone calls
  • chargers for electronic devices
  • a copy of your last clinic letter (if you have one)

Time in hospital

The length of your stay depends on the type of operation you have and your recovery.

Family and friends

Before you go into hospital, it might be worth checking:

  • whether the ward is allowing visitors
  • if they have set visiting times
  • the best number for friends and family to phone, to find out how you are

The letter you receive before your operation may contain this information. But if not, you can phone the ward or hospital reception to find out.

You can use your mobile phone in hospital. But there may be some time before and after your operation when you won’t have your mobile nearby. And you may not feel like talking.

Going home

People can often go home very early after surgery these days. It is important that you don’t do too much and tire yourself out. So it may help to prepare or buy some meals in advance that you can just heat up once you are at home.

Depending on the operation you have, you might not be able to drive for a while afterwards. So you will need to organise a friend or relative to take you home if possible.

  • The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures, 10th edition 
    S Lister and others (Editors)
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2020

Last reviewed: 
19 May 2022
Next review due: 
19 May 2025

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