Surgical oncologists are general surgeons with specialty training in procedures for diagnosing, staging (determining the stage of cancer), or removing cancerous growths. The most common procedures performed by surgical oncologists are biopsies and surgery for cancerous growth removal
They can also perform surgery to stage cancer and determine how far cancer has spread. In certain circumstances, surgical oncologists may also perform preventive surgeries. In some cases, surgery may be the only treatment you need. In other circumstances, you may have surgery and receive additional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. In these cases, a surgical oncologist may be an important part of your cancer care team.
What Does a Surgical Oncologist Do?
To diagnose cancers, surgical oncologists may perform biopsies. Biopsy procedures can include:
Following a biopsy, a surgical oncologist will send tissue samples to a pathologist, who checks for cancer cells. If cancer is present, you may see the surgical oncologist again to have a tumor or other tissue removed. A surgical oncologist may also choose to perform a staging surgery to find out a tumor’s size and if cancer has spread.
Surgery can be an effective way to remove cancerous growths associated with skin, breast, liver, pancreatic, colon, or other types of cancers. When treating cancer, surgical oncologists may remove all or part of cancerous tumors, remove surrounding healthy tissue, or remove nearby lymph nodes. Surgical procedures used will vary based on the purpose of the surgery as well as the portions of the body and size of the tissue affected. Surgical oncologists may perform open surgeries or minimally invasive procedures such as: