Surgical Oncologist

Surgical Oncologist

May 18
11:53 2017

Surgical oncology is a specialized oncology
field that focuses on the surgical management of cancer. Unlike other
specialties in the medical field, there is some debate over whether a surgeon
can truly be trained to manage all types of malignant tumors. The surgical
oncology field is not board certified. The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO)
was founded by surgeons looking to promote the field of oncology. They have
created 19 fellowships for surgeons to take part in. Upon completion of one of
these fellowships, a surgeon will be considered a surgical oncologist according
to the Society of Surgical Oncology. Since the medical board has not certified
surgical oncology as a specialty, the Society of Surgical Oncology is pushing
for the specialty to become board certified. Until then, they will determine
who is a specialist in the field of surgical oncology. Some surgeons may take
offense to the SSO claiming they have the right to determine who is a surgical
oncology specialist. Surgeons that have managed many malignant tumors
throughout their career may feel they do not need to complete any fellowships
run by the SSO to be known as a specialist in the field of surgical oncology.

Surgical oncologists are responsible for removing cancerous tumors, lymph
nodes, and other organs or tissues that the cancer has reached.

Tumor Excision

Tumor excision to remove all traces of cancer from a patient is the most
important aspect of surgical oncology. When a tumor is removed, not only is it
possible for all traces of cancer to be removed from the body but other
symptoms such as obstruction of the colon can be cured. Removal of a tumor
stops cancer cells from spreading from that tumor to other local and distant
sites in the body. If cancer cells have already spread from the initial tumor,
surgery to remove the tumor will not stop the cells from spreading. Once a
cancer has began to metastasize it cannot be stopped by surgical means. Advances
in diagnostic methods have made surgical oncology more useful. Now doctors know
if it is safe to remove a tumor surgically because biopsies and imaging tests
inform the surgeon if the tumor is safe and small enough to remove through
surgery. Improper removal of a tumor could result in spreading cancer cells to
other organs and tissue.

Lymph Node Removal

Surgical oncologists can remove lymph nodes to help diagnose cancer. The lymph
nodes are only removed if it believed cancer has infected them. The sentinel
node biopsy is believed to be more accurate than any biological test when
forming a prognosis. Nodal biopsies offer precise and accurate information
about cancer regarding it’s stage.

Removal of Cancer Recurrences

Surgery to remove recurring tumors rarely changes a patient’s life expectancy.
Tumors that have recurred have likely already metastasized to other areas.
Surgery to remove these tumors is focused more on pain and symptoms management.

Distant Metastases Surgery

Surgery to remove metastasized cancers is rare. Entire organs have already been
infected by cancer and the removal of the initial tumor along with newer tumors
will not ensure the organs. Surgery that takes place after cancer has
metastasized is mainly for pain and symptom management.

Each individual patient responds differently after surgery performed by an
oncologist. The prognoses made after surgery depend on the stage of the cancer.
Some patients are cancer free following surgery while others may pass away soon
after because the cancer is too severe. Surgical oncologists can only do their
best to safely remove tumors and organs that have been infected with cancer. In
most cases, radiation and chemotherapy is needed following surgery to kill
remaining cancer cells in the body.

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