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Debulking[1] is the surgical removal[2] of as much of a malignant tumour as possible,[3] so as to enhance the effectiveness of radiation or chemotherapy. It is used only in specific malignancies, as generally partial removal of a tumor is not considered a worthwhile intervention. Ovarian carcinoma[4] and some types of brain tumor[5] are debulked prior to commencing radio- or chemotherapy. It may also be used in the case of slow growth tumors to shift tumor cells from phase of cell cycle to replicative pool.

It is usually a long and often complicated procedure taking several hours or more to perform, depending on internal involvement and location.

Debulking is also known as cytoreduction surgery;[6] "cytoreduction" refers to reducing the number of cancer cells.